March Madness & Problem Gambling [Infographic]

For many people, March Madness is a time to enjoy friendly bets with family, friends, and coworkers. However, for some it can be a catalyst for problem gambling behavior, which can have a significant impact on school, work, and relationships.

If a person currently struggles with gambling addiction or is at risk for the condition, the annual NCAA tournament can create a path toward continued or deepening gambling problems.

Problem gambling isn’t a money issue. It’s a diagnosable and treatable condition in which a person is no longer able to make reasonable choices about betting. Like other addictions, it’s been linked to changes in the brain that affect decision-making abilities.

Signs of Problem Gambling
  • You find yourself lying or acting evasively about money.
  • You neglect responsibilities, like work or school, for gambling.
  • You have mood swings that depend on whether you’re winning or losing.
  • You have arguments with family or friends about money.
  • You’ve borrowed money to gamble or to pay for necessities because you lost money betting.
  • You’ve borrowed money without permission—even though you may intend to pay it back.
  • You’ve taken money out of dedicated accounts, like retirement funds or life insurance, to gamble.
  • You delay or avoid necessary purchases, like groceries or medicine, because you’d rather use your money to place bets.

This gambling infographic from the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, Rochester Area shares facts and stats about sports betting and March Madness.


Problem Gambling Awareness Month 2017- Stats and Facts

March is Problem Gambling Awareness Month.

Gambling addiction is a serious condition with roots in the brain. Biologically, it has much in common with addictions to alcohol and other drugs. Anyone can struggle with it, no matter their gender, age, financial status, or ethnic background. As many as 6 million Americans live with the symptoms–and millions more are left to cope as they watch the condition destroy someone they love.

To learn how gambling addiction has an impact on so many lives, check out Real Stories of Recovery and Awareness from the National Council on Problem Gambling (NCPG).

The NCPG also shared this gambling infographic with statistics and other information about gambling in America.

Compass Mark helps individuals, families, educators, therapists, and other concerned professionals find the resources to deal with compulsive gambling. For prevention and education resources, treatment referrals, and intervention information in Lancaster County or Lebanon County, contact our team at 717-299-2831 or use our online Gambling Help form. Our guidance is confidential and judgment free.


Do Casinos Enable Problem Gamblers? [Gambling in the News]

What role do casinos play in the development or enablement of gambling addiction? John Rosengren recently investigated in How Casinos Enable Gambling Addicts.

The article, published in The Atlantic, begins with the story of a gambling-addicted man on the brink of suicide after his behavior triggered criminal charges for alleged theft from his employer.

Rosengren’s reporting then reveals that casinos have developed a way to calculate the “predicted lifetime value” of an individual gambler. Repeat gamblers who lose lots of money are called “whales.” He reports that casinos often cater to “whales” to get their repeat business. In one case, the article recounts, an Iowa casino reportedly upped one frequent gambler’s limit on some slot machines and even gave her the opportunity to be the first to play a new slot machine the casino had installed.

The article also describes the potential danger of virtual reel slot machines, which use technology—not mechanics—to determine where the wheel stops. Furthermore, virtual slots create “near misses,” which give the player the impression he or she almost won—a tantalizing catalyst to bet even more. (Get more info on how gambling machines are addictive by design.)

Rosengren’s article is heartbreaking and worth the read.

Gambling addiction is a complex condition, and, while the role of casinos is certainly a factor to consider, specific risk factors also increase the chance of developing it. A few risk factors include:

  • Starting to gamble at an early age;
  • Having a history of impulsive behavior;
  • Having a family history of addiction;
  • Having a personal history of addiction;
  • Experiencing trauma.

If you’re concerned about your gambling behavior or that of someone you love, take the assessment quiz on our home page. You may also want to check out a list of Gambling Addiction Treatment Providers in Lancaster, PA and the surrounding area. For additional help, use our online help form.


Slots & Poker Apps: Gambling with Addiction? [Research]

People who play digital simulated gambling games were “significantly” more likely to report problem gambling behaviors, according to a recent Australian study.

Social casino gamers is a term that describes people who play simulated casino games that don’t involve real money wagers. Examples include apps that mimic slots or poker games.

The research, which was reviewed on the Worldwide Addiction Gambling Education Report (WAGER), was based on interviews with 2,010 gamblers. The results revealed that 15% of social casino gamers were at moderate risk for developing problem gambling, while 5% were problem gamblers.   Social casino gamers were also less likely to be non-gamblers. The group reported it was more likely to engage in other risky behaviors, too, including smoking and illegal drug use.

As noted in WAGER, the findings don’t necessarily say that social casino games create gambling addiction; it’s possible that people who are already at risk for problem gambling are more attracted to these types of games.

However, it’s also important to consider whether the findings could suggest that social casino gaming puts players at higher risk because it nurtures a false sense of skill. In addition, another study found that people who played free gambling games bet “significantly” more in real money games later than those who hadn’t played the free games. Gambling-like apps may also make gaming much more accessible to youth, potentially increasing their vulnerability to developing gambling problems later in life. Learn more about Kids and Simulated Gambling.

Problem Gambling Resources in Lancaster, PA and Lebanon, PA

If you’re a concerned health care or mental health professional, visit Problem Gambling Resources, bookmark our Gambling Blog, or follow Compass Mark on Facebook for the latest in news, research, and training opportunities.


Does Childhood Maltreatment Contribute to Problem Gambling? [Research]

People with gambling disorder reported significantly higher levels of childhood maltreatment, according to a recent study.

The researchers conducted personal interviews with participants, asking them about their history of emotional abuse, physical abuse, verbal abuse, sexual abuse, and neglect. For example, the findings, which were reviewed on the Worldwide Addiction Gambling Education Report (WAGER), revealed:

  • 40% of problem gamblers reported emotional abuse, compared with 12% of non-problem gamblers.
  • 48% of problem gamblers reported verbal abuse, as opposed to 19% of non-problem gamblers.

As WAGER notes, the study shows a connection but doesn’t prove that childhood maltreatment causes gambling problems. Rather, it suggests that positive parenting may act as a protective factor against risky behaviors, like disordered gambling.

What are protective factors?

Protective factors are qualities or skills that help youth make healthier decisions about gambling and other risky activities. Protective factors include things like:

  • Family cohesion;
  • Consistent discipline;
  • School engagement;
  • Strong communication skills;
  • Good relationships with peers;
  • Good conflict resolution skills.

Compass Mark programs, including gambling awareness and education curriculum We Know BETter, work to build specific protective factors in Lancaster- and Lebanon-area youth. For example, We Know BETter utilizes age-appropriate activities to help children in grades 4-8 learn about the dangers of youth gambling as well as practice refusal and coping skills.

Contact us at 717-299-2831 to learn how this gambling education program will help build protective factors in your students so they can make healthier decisions about gambling.


Virtual Reality Gambling: A Risk to Problem and At-Risk Gamblers?

Imagine a Pokémon-like game combined with gambling in a virtual reality setting. That’s precisely what one company is now trying to deliver to players. One of the leading providers for real-money, skill-based gaming, Gamblit Gaming, announced a partnership with another company to produce a location-based real-money gaming experience.

Gamblit’s website styles its products as “Gaming meets gambling, and everybody wins.” In the new game, players will fight virtual monsters as well as wager on their success. Spectators will also be able to watch and bet on players. The game uses HTC’s VRC (Virtual Reality Cube) and offers “room-scale VR and true-to-life” interactions.

It’s true that many Americans will likely be able to enjoy this or similar games without negative consequences; however, this technology also presents one more potential pathway to gambling addiction for those at risk.

Compulsive gambling is a diagnosable condition that has a devastating impact on the 6-9 million Americans estimated to meet the criteria. It’s been linked to an increased risk for substance abuse, domestic violence, depression, and suicide.

As gambling becomes increasingly available via tablets, smartphones, and other devices, it’s critical for individuals, families, educators, and healthcare providers to become more aware of this addiction, which often flies under the radar. The addition of a virtual reality component to wagers is troubling considering that research suggests the environment surrounding gambling, such as casino lights or sounds, spurs riskier bets.

Finding Help and Resources for Problem Gambling in Lancaster and Lebanon

Whether you’re an educator worried about a student’s gambling or a healthcare provider in need of a patient referral, visit Compass Mark’s Gambling Resources for links to articles, journals, and other help resources.

If you’re struggling with gambling or you’re worried about your behavior but aren’t quite sure if you have a problem, contact our team at 717-299-2831 or use our simple Help Form. We’ll share confidential guidance and resources to help you find a healthier path.


Men Who Gamble More Prone to Violent Behavior [Research]

Men who gamble are more prone to commit violence, according to new findings from University of Lincoln researchers.

The researchers, who surveyed more than 3,000 men in the United Kingdom, discovered that gambling at any level, from casual gambling to compulsive gambling, increased the likelihood they would engage in violent behavior, including domestic abuse. Researchers also found:

  • 50% of those with compulsive gambling (the most serious form of the disorder) and 28% of those who gambled casually had been in a physical fight over the previous 5 years.
  • 19% of non-gamblers reported being involved in violence.

The difference between non-gamblers and gamblers extended to weapons use as well:

  • About 25% of compulsive gamblers and 18% of problem gamblers (those showing several symptoms of the disorder) reported using weapons during violence.
  • Only 7% of non-problem gamblers reported weapons usage.

The study also revealed that problem and compulsive gamblers were the most likely to say they had hit a child or been violent with a partner. Nearly 10% of compulsive gamblers admitted to hitting a child.

According to researchers, the results stayed “statistically significant” even after they were adjusted for mental illness and impulsive behavior.

This study adds to the growing body of research that connects domestic violence and problem gambling. And, recently, the Council on Compulsive Gambling of New Jersey (CCGNJ) launched its own survey to find out if there are links between disordered gambling and domestic partner abuse.

Domestic Violence Help in PA

No one deserves physical, sexual, verbal, or emotional abuse. If you or a family member is being abused, don’t “wait it out,” hoping your partner gets his or her gambling under control. Reach out for professional, compassionate help now.


Domestic Violence Services of Lancaster County at 717-299-9677

Domestic Violence Intervention of Lebanon County at 717-273-7190

National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233

Gambling Addiction Help in Lancaster, PA or Lebanon, PA

If you need to locate gambling help resources, including intervention or treatment, contact Compass Mark at 717-299-2831 or fill out our Help Form.


Get Inspired at the Addiction Recovery Walk and Rally August 28th

The Lancaster County Recovery Alliance (LCRA) Annual Recovery Walk and Rally is this coming Sunday, August 28th. Hear inspirational stories from people in addiction recovery, do some yoga, create something at our sign-making station, listen to music, and more!

The rally starts 9:30 a.m. Sunday in the front parking lot of the stadium, with Tim Stoddart, founder of Sober Nation, as featured speaker.

The Walk for Recovery is 1.8 miles and kicks off around noon, winding around the Franklin & Marshall College area. It begins and ends at Clipper Magazine Stadium.

If you’d like to stay for the Lancaster Barnstormers game, special Recovery Day tickets with all-you-can-eat Hess’s BBQ are ON SALE NOW! They must be purchased in advance–these tickets *will not* be available on event day. Contact Amy Sechrist at

The LCRA’s mission is to promote recovery from a range of addictions as well as addiction awareness and community outreach in Lancaster County. The group also works to remove the stigma of addiction–a stigma that makes it harder for recovering people to become engaged community members. The LCRA is made up of community members, including people in recovery, friends and family members, service providers, legal/law enforcement, church/faith-based organizations, corrections, the business community, and other allies. Learn more: Battle Addiction’s Stigma, Transform Recovery on LCRA’s Agenda.


Warning Signs of Problem Gambling [Infographic]

How do you know if you or a loved one is struggling with problem gambling? The signs of compulsive gambling aren’t always crystal clear (which is why it’s sometimes called the hidden addiction), but there are red flags that suggest it’s time to seek out professional help.

Gambling addiction is a diagnosable condition that impacts every aspect of life—not just the bank account. The stress and strain of this addiction affects physical and emotional well-being. It’s been linked to substance abuse, clinical depression, and increased suicide risk.

Check out this warning signs infographic from Ohio for Responsible Gambling. (If you need to view it at a larger size, right click on the image and choose “open image in new tab.”) Then take the simple assessment quiz on our home page to find out if you or someone you know is at risk for compulsive gambling. If you need additional help, a counselor trained to work with gambling addiction can conduct a thorough assessment and, when necessary, develop a treatment plan that points you toward recovery.


Learn More
Support Your Compulsive Gambling Recovery: Do’s and Don’ts
Is a Loved One Addicted to Gambling? 5 Tips for Family, Friends
Gambling Addiction Treatment Options in the Lancaster/Lebanon Area

Get Help
For 50 years, Compass Mark has been helping individuals and families discover help and hope for addiction disorders. Don’t wait until “rock bottom” to seek help.  Call our team for confidential guidance at 717-299-2831 or use the Compulsive Gambling Help Form.


Gambling Addiction Through Her Own Eyes: One Woman’s Story

What does the face of gambling addiction look like? In one family’s case, it was the face of a mother with two young children. Recently, Woman’s Day published “How I Overcame a Gambling Addiction That Landed Me in Prison,” the story of a Las Vegas woman who was imprisoned for stealing to support her compulsive behavior.

Grace Conenna, who had been the office manager at a family-owned business, says in her account:

“One afternoon I wrote myself a $2,000 check from the company account. It’ll be a one-time thing, I promised myself. But it wasn’t. Over the next two years, I swiped $98,000 more.”

The woman notes that most people would have thought she looked like a “regular mom.” Yet, she says:

“The minute I sat down at the machine, I’d relax. And winning set me flying. I wanted to feel that high more and more often.”

For years, Conenna struggled to control the behavior, which was sometimes punctuated by periods of gambling abstinence. Read the full story (link above) to learn how her life unraveled and what happened after she was sentenced to prison when her children were ages 9 and 11.

You can heal from gambling addiction.

Conenna’s firsthand account is a compelling reminder that excessive gambling behavior has a profound impact on the lives of gamblers—and those who love (and rely on) him or her.

Professional therapists specifically trained to work with problem gamblers offer the tools to retrain unhealthy thought processes and improve coping skills. While specific treatment plans are developed for each unique situation, in general, problem gambling treatment combines talk therapy, self-help support groups, and lifestyle changes.

Take this gambling quiz to find out if you or a loved one is at risk for developing this condition, which is classified as a behavioral addiction by the American Psychiatric Association.

For confidential, judgment-free guidance, contact the Compass Mark team at (717) 299-2831, or find inpatient and outpatient treatment providers in Lancaster, PA and Lebanon, PA at Treatment for Problem Gambling.