She Lost $35,000 on Penny Slots, Then Got Her Finances Back on Track

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Linda Mannerberg - Penney Slots
AP
By Gerri Detweiler

When Linda Mannerberg attended the Women's Money Conference in Las Vegas Nevada in 2012, she was struggling with debt and a gambling addiction she hid from those closest to her. She attended the conference again this year in April 2013, but this time she was in a completely different place. She received a standing ovation for turning her financial life around in just a year.

Like many of the other women at the conference who applauded her success, I was deeply touched by Linda's story and asked her if I could share it with our readers. She agreed, but said she didn't think it was a big deal. I told her I disagreed. Here is her story:


When I came to the conference last year, I was in a lot of debt. I had credit card debt, a car loan and payday loans. I would get paid and pay the interest on the payday loans, but I wouldn't have enough to pay off the loans.

I also had a gambling addiction -- I would get up in the middle of the night to go gambling.

My boyfriend and I have lived in Las Vegas about nine years now. When we first moved here, a new casino held a slot tournament. It didn't cost anything to join, so a friend and I decided to go. I ended up in the finals and won $5,000. That's when my gambling problem started. I thought that if I won that, then I can win again.

Of course I never did.

In fact, this year when we went to the casinos to get our gambling loss statements, I was shocked. It showed that I lost $35,000 with all the casinos. I used to play penny slot machines so I kept thinking, "I am only playing 40 cents at a time." But it adds up.

Keeping Secrets

No one knew about my financial problems. I hid them from my parents and my boyfriend. We've been together 22 years, and he didn't have a clue. I kept everything to myself. We have our own checking and savings accounts, so he didn't know what was going on.

So I listened carefully at the conference, and took lots of notes. I knew I needed to change because if I didn't, it was going to get worse. I sat down with my boyfriend and told him everything. I thought for sure he would throw me out on the street, but he was really nice about it.

He said he would help me, but I needed to follow what he said. He took over my money. I cashed my check and gave it to him. He paid off the payday loans and took over my payments on the other loans and gave me just enough money to put gas in the car or whatever.

Finally, after six months, we decided I could open a savings account -- but he told me he wanted to see how I could handle it. I think he was making me prove to myself that I could have that money there without spending it.

Getting Help

After the conference, I also talked to a friend at work about my problem. She told me I would be surprised at how many people are gamblers, and that I should talk with one of my co-workers who, I was surprised to learn, also had a gambling problem. She took me to Gamblers Anonymous meetings.

Now, I don't want to be in casinos anymore. If I get a gambling urge I call a friend, or I stay home and don't get dressed.

Last year when all this happened, I owed about $12,000. Since then, I have been able to pay my boyfriend back all that money he spent paying off my debts. I only have student loans and my car loan now.

After the first Women's Money Conference, I ordered my free Credit Report Card from Credit.com to see my credit score, and so did my boyfriend. Once a month we look at it to see if my credit scores are getting better.

Recently I needed a new car, so I applied online to see what I could get. When I learned I qualified for a car loan at 2.9 percent, I started crying. My last car loan had a 9 percent rate. We ended up buying my car from a dealer in Utah, 404 miles away, because it saved me $3,000. Now I research things carefully.

Recently, I opened my own checking account. My goals now are to double up on my payments on my student loans and car. My boyfriend is going to get ready to retire and I want to be able to retire, too. Being ready for retirement is my goal now.

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25 Comments

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Dennis Mcclean

So called penny slots pay nothing unless your betting several hundred pennies so why not just play the dollar slots or quarter slots.
Also the white slips you get now make it far too easy to keep losing your money even if your up money , with out actually seeing the cash or even coin representations of cash you easily lose track of the money and the value it represents.

It's a suckers game regardless what your playing , slots cards , what ever , continued play means loses no matter if you have won something decent , it soon goes back.
Games that are set up with the house advantage built in so how are you going to beat them at their own game ?

Yes, it is true that the odd schmuck hits the odd big jackpot , but this is quite rare and compared to the daily take of the average Casino this is nothing for them to pay out now and again while racking in millions and millions from poor slobs that can't afford to be in there in the first place.

July 29 2013 at 12:25 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Barabus Quin

Last time I went to the slots with $130.00 , after a half hour I was up $100.00 , did I leave ?
Nope, I though I'll just do another $20.00 and I'll still be up $80.00 then I'll leave.
Then another $20.00 , well , I'll still be up $60.00 and so on until I gave back the $100.00 win and the $130.00 I came in with , then off to the ATM and another $300.00 so instead of being up $100.00 I was now down $530.00. I was mad at myself for being so foolish and said that was it for me, no more gambling. Despite being disciplined on other occasions and leaving up money this last trip really told me I was not in control and have to stay away.

July 08 2013 at 12:19 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
gmrtranscription.ajay

Gambling, whether it is penny slots or whatever comes with its perils. The big danger of losing. “Let me try once more, my luck will definitely change this time’ is the thought that makes people lose everything they have. More often than not it IS a losing bet.

May 13 2013 at 4:49 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Phil Collins

I once placed a $2.00 bet on Beetle Bomb to Win, Place or Show in the third race of the day and my luck the Horse didn't even show up at the track that day. ( And I lost my Ass)

May 11 2013 at 4:55 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
barstown

P.S. I bet she can give a wicked hand job with her pulling arm..:)

May 11 2013 at 12:05 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
barstown

it takes NO skill to play slots,that I why I find it funny when people cry about losing all their money of things they have no control over.....

May 11 2013 at 12:04 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
lenders1

Jeviga... u r 1 story teller....

May 10 2013 at 10:09 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
lenders1

At 40 cents a pull... and a loss of $35k, you would wonder why after 87,500 pulls that this one did not learn by the 44,000 pull? As they say... Many play to prove they are losers.

May 10 2013 at 10:08 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Northwest60

having worked in a casino for 3 years, I saw alot of people who thought they were going to hit the big one, but ended up losing it all. I admire someone who can turn their life around like you. Casinos are there to make money, not give it away. Thats why they came up with the penny slots, because they knew that their guests are gullible and would go for them, thinking they get 2000 credits for $20.00 and gamblers would feed more money into them them than the dollar , quarter, and nickel machines. Casinos are their to make a profit and not give their customers that golden egg.

May 10 2013 at 7:28 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
marcamada

So he's getting ready to retire and she wants to join him with student loans still in arrears?
In addition if you can't pay outright for a car you are no where ready to retire unless your boyfriend is rich. But if he dies you are legally entitled to zero.
You got a wake up call and time is already running out on your plans, good luck.
The rest of you please continue gambling, my dividends thank you.
Sorry to be so snarky but I think this woman needed to grow up a long time ago and stop being so dependant.
I have lived in Vegas for twelve years. Showed up doing fair and now I'm leaving dozens of times wealthier than anybody I know. I gambled at the stock market not in the casino. I knew that was a losing bet.
Life is hard, don't be stupid with your future..

May 10 2013 at 7:26 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply