Sciandra To Share Problem Gambling Treatment Resources

On Dec. 14, 2020, Michael Sciandra made a phone call that would change his life. After more than 25 years struggling with problem gambling, he was finally ready to remove the chaos. He called the Nebraska Problem Gambling Helpline, and the rest is history.

“I received free outpatient treatment through the Nebraska Gamblers Assistance Program through Choices Treatment Center, which included multiple individual and group counseling sessions per week, daily check-ins, journaling, and other assignments,” Sciandra said. “I also received budgeting services and other financial education. At the end of nearly one year bet-free, I was able to reduce my treatment and start in my current role with Choices.”

Ironically, he was born in the Las Vegas metro area, but he grew up in Waterville, Kansas. Sciandra remembers his first gambling activities at age 9. It started with playing cards for money with his family, scratching lottery tickets and entering NCAA basketball tournament pools for money. As a teenager he went to Keno parlors and would travel to small towns in northern Kansas to play bingo. Once he turned 21, he started going to casinos in Council Bluffs, Iowa, with and without his family.

“Like many problem gamblers, my gambling activity started at a young age,” Sciandra explained. “Honestly, I always knew deep down my gambling was a problem. Fifteen years before I finally entered recovery, I would try to take preventative steps to hinder my ability to gamble like closing bank and credit card accounts, but I always found new ways to obtain money for my behavior. It was not until 2020 did I truly take the necessary steps to enter recovery.”  

Sciandra went to Southeast Community College in Beatrice, graduating with an Associate of Applied Science degree in Business Administration. He later earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Marketing Management from Bellevue University and a Master of Arts degree in Management from Doane. He has lived in Lincoln for the past 24 years holding a variety of sales management roles in retail, management consultation and recruiting. A successful professional, he was also good at hiding his addiction.

“Looking back on the double life I led, it was exhausting,” he said. “I was a college-educated professional, active in a church community and an active parent, but it all felt like a lie. The transparent nature with which I live my life today is so much easier than all the lies I told myself and others.”

While in treatment, Sciandra knew he needed to tell his story and increase public awareness of problem gambling. He went on to earn a Disordered Gambling Counselor Certificate from Bellevue University and, in December 2023, a Peer Support Specialist Certificate from SCC. He is the Education and Outreach Coordinator at Choices Treatment Center at its Lincoln and Columbus locations.

Sciandra will be speaking one-on-one with SCC students, faculty and staff about problem gambling and the free treatment resources available for problem gamblers and their loved ones in Nebraska as part of Problem Gambling Awareness Month. He will be available the following times:

  • Tuesday, March 19: Milford Dunlap Center, 11 a.m.-12:30 p.m.
  • Wednesday, March 20: Lincoln Student Center, 10 a.m.-1 p.m.
  • Thursday, March 21: Beatrice Cafeteria, 11 a.m.-12:30 p.m.

SCC’s Counseling Assistance Program for Students will also be providing free screenings at that time. If you or someone you know has a gambling problem, call the Nebraska Problem Gambling Helpline at 1-833-BET-OVER (1-833-238-6837) or email Sciandra at

Jennifer Snyder
Communications Specialist