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Help now available for ‘sick’ pachinko players

Date Posted: 2006-03-24

Pachinko is addictive.

Pachinko is a form of gambling that ranks alongside slot machines, poker, blackjack and baccarat, and roulette. Inveterate players become so absorbed in their gaming they often do stupid things.

Children have been left sleeping in hot, locked cars, only to be found dead many hours later when the pachinko playing parent returns. Players become hooked, convinced the ‘next game’ will be the big winner, and take out loans they subsequently cannot pay back.

“”Yes, I think I’m sick!” was the response 30% of Okinawa’s pachinko players were asked by the National Playing Business Association “Do you know you are sick for playing pachinko and can’t stop? Do you know how to stop?” a few weeks ago. The group interviewed 5,600 players as it began plans for a special pachinko addicts Help Line. The new program, to kick off next month, is the brainchild of a doctor, Naoyuki Nishimura.

The 40-year-old Nishimura is a specialist in dealing with chemical poisonings, and in caring for mentally disturbed patients. Operating from a clinic in Nishihara Town, the doctor has established a Recovery Support Network. He believes compulsive pachinko playing is a sickness, but says it can be cured.

The National Playing Business Association is taking the sickness and addiction concerns seriously, and has committed ¥100,000,000 to a five-year budget. The Help Line is its initial undertaking, with four medical and psychological counseling consultants online to field calls from concerned pachinko players. Officials say the service will accept calls from pachinko players nationwide.

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