Sen. Karen Carter Peterson reveals struggle with gambling addiction

Sen. Karen Carter Peterson reveals struggle with gambling addiction
(Source: Senate website)

NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - Louisiana state Sen. Karen Carter Peterson reveals her struggle with a gambling addiction after being issued a summons by State Police as part of a voluntary program.

The senator said she entered a casino ban program with State Police as part of her effort to overcome her addiction. Under the program, if she entered a casino, police would escort her out and issue her a summons.

Recently, Carter Peterson said she violated the ban during a relapse, went to a casino and was escorted out.

She said she revealed her gambling addiction because she found out that a news outlet had learned of the summons she was issued and was going to report it.

Dear Friends & Supporters,

I’ve written to you in the past asking for your support in many ways. Today, I am asking you for your moral support and prayers in a very personal matter.

My parents taught me two really important things: (1) public service is a noble calling, and (2) telling the truth and asking for forgiveness is paramount when you make a mistake.

I have always tried to do my best. However, I am, like all of you, human. Some people struggle with different types of addictions. For many years, I have struggled with a gambling addiction. It is a disease. From time to time, I have relapsed; I have let myself down as well as family and friends who are near and dear to me.

As a result of an intentional breach of confidentiality regarding a voluntary state program designed to help individuals avoid the negative effects of gambling, I am writing to discuss a very personal matter that involves no allegations of wrongdoing on my part.

Throughout this struggle, I have taken a number of steps to affirmatively address my addiction, including seeking professional treatment and guidance from my spiritual leader.

Roughly two years ago, I voluntarily enrolled in a state program designed to help people with gambling disorders. Under this “self-exclusion” program offered by the Louisiana State Police, a person struggling with gambling addiction can sign up with the state police to voluntarily exclude oneself from entering a gambling establishment. Under this program, I consented to allowing any of these officials who see me in a gambling establishment to escort me out and to issue a summons.

Recently while experiencing challenging times, I violated my voluntary ban and was issued a summons. The program worked as it should. I certainly regret failing to uphold my agreement to avoid casinos. I knew this was a vulnerability when I signed up for this voluntary program because relapses are sometimes part of the disease.

Unfortunately, I am having to publicly divulge these very personal challenges as a result of a breach in the confidentiality of the program. I recently learned that a news outlet was preparing to report that the Louisiana State Police had issued a summons as a result of me entering a casino. While the summons is surely a public document - as it should be - it has been confirmed to me that the issuance of a summons to me was leaked by one of the entities responsible for maintaining confidentiality. But for this leak, I am told the summons would have been processed as all others which have been issued to people in the confidential, self exclusion program.

I am, however, very concerned that others struggling with gambling addiction may be discouraged from participating in this voluntary program because the confidentiality has been breached. It is an important tool in the toolkit for people struggling with gambling addiction. I intend to work to strengthen this program because it has helped me immensely.

I will grow stronger from this, and I remain committed to working on behalf of the people of this great state and nation. I am asking for your moral and spiritual support as I continue on this very personal journey.

More than anything, I ask for forgiveness. I am sorry for the hurt and embarrassment my actions have caused my family and friends. My commitment to my recovery and using my self-care tools will only grow stronger as a result of this experience.

Respectfully and Sincerely, KCP

P.S. If you or someone you know is struggling with a gambling addiction, there is help out there. Gamblers Anonymous has meetings all over the country and right here in Louisiana. The Voluntary Self-Exclusion program details can be found here.

Governor John Bel Edwards released a statement Saturday morning supporting Peterson during her struggle.

“Karen has shown strength and contrition in the face of a difficult situation. Addiction is a terrible disease and I am praying for her, her family and her recovery.”

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