Local residents are being offered a “chance to change.”

“Chance to Change” is a 13-session recovery group for those with a gambling addiction.

It is being led by Terry Scott, pastor of North Miami Assembly of God Church, on behalf of the Ottawa County Ministerial Alliance.

It will be held at 7 p.m. Thursdays in the new ministerial alliance office at East Central and A Street NE, across from Milagros.

The meeting on Dec. 27 will not be held because of the holidays.

The first 10 people to register will receive scholarships thanks to a private donor.

“There is absolutely a need for the program,” Scott said. “According to some of the testimonies I've heard, people have lost their homes, their families. Some have gone so far as to attempt to commit suicide.”

According to information from the National Gambling Impact Study Commission, bankruptcy rates average approximately 18 percent higher in casino communities and gambling additions will increase by approximately 10 percent within a 50 mile radius of a casino.

The class was thought of by the Rev. Raymond Frizzelle, pastor of the First Assembly of God Church in Miami, and the Rev. Leon Weece, pastor of the First Christian Church, also in Miami.

“Gambling just for recreation is one thing,” Scott said. “But, for many it becomes more than just a past time.

“Many are beginning to use their rent money and utility money for gambling.

“I've visited with people who work at casinos and the stories they could tell about people spending money on gambling that's needed for other things.”

Scott gave an example of a woman in a convenience store who spent several dollars on lottery tickets. When the child who was with her asked for a candy bar, the woman told him that they didn't have any more money.

“When someone has money for lottery tickets, but not for a sweet treat for her child, there's a problem,” Scott said.