On Friday evening, Louisiana State Senator Karen Carter Peterson issued a statement admitting that she, like many others, struggles with a gambling addiction.
The District 5 Senator issued the statement after receiving word that someone inside a state program intended to help those with gambling addiction breached confidentiality and leaked information regarding Peterson’s participation in the program to a media outlet.
Earlier that evening, New Orleans’ WWL-TV reported that Peterson was issued a misdemeanor citation by Louisiana State Police for “remaining places after being forbidden” while at the L’auberge Casino in Baton Rouge.
Two years ago, Peterson volunteered to participate in the Louisiana “self-exclusion from casino gambling” program. She completed a waiver excluding her from all casino gambling establishments. The program specifies that should a participant be caught gambling, any winnings would be withheld and remitted to the State of Louisiana, and the participant may be subject to arrest or other legal recourse.
According to Peterson, “while experiencing challenging times,” she violated the voluntary ban and was issued a summons. “The program worked as it should,” Peterson said. “I knew this was a vulnerability when I signed up for this voluntary program because relapses are sometimes part of the disease.”
While she admits her own misstep, Peterson stated that her main concern is that the breach in confidentiality regarding her summons might discourage others from participating in the program. According to a report in Money, Louisiana ranks 11th in the U.S. for gambling addiction. Peterson promised to use her position in the state legislature to work to strengthen the program, saying “it is an important tool in the toolkit for people struggling with gambling addiction.”
As the first woman to serve as chair of the Louisiana Democratic Party, Senator Peterson was recently named to Higher Heights’ “Chisholm List 50,” which recognized 50 powerful black women elected to public office. Peterson also serves as the vice chair of the Democratic National Committee’s Civic Engagement & Voter Participation Committee. She remains as committed to those obligations as she does her position in the state legislature.
“Public service is a noble calling,” Peterson stated. “Telling the truth and asking for forgiveness is paramount when you make a mistake.”
“My commitment to my recovery and using my self-care tools will only grow stronger as a result of this experience.”
Jenn Bentley is a writer and editor originally from Cadiz, Kentucky. Her writing has been featured in publications such as The Examiner, The High Tech Society, FansShare, Yahoo News, and others. When she’s not writing or editing, Jenn spends her time raising money for Extra Life and advocating for autism awareness.