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.

 

Military Members May Be At Risk for Problem Gambling

The U.S. military may not be doing everything it can to diagnose gambling disorder, suggests the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO).

The report, which based its findings on Department of Defense (DOD) data, said the military has only diagnosed about .03% of its service members with the disorder each year. The GAO noted that the DOD doesn’t specifically target gambling abuse for screening, which means service members with the condition may be likely to go undiagnosed.

The GAO offered several recommendations, including the addition of problem gambling questions to the military’s screening processes. However, the DOD rejected that recommendation, arguing that it was “impractical to screen for every low prevalence disorder.”

It’s worth noting the DOD currently operates 3,141 slot machines—1,159 of which are on Japanese bases. The machines generated nearly $539 million in revenue from 2011 to 2015.

What We Know About Problem Gambling & Military Veterans

Previous research suggests problem gambling is an issue that impacts active-duty and retired veterans. For example, nearly 10% of U.S. vets struggle with disordered gambling, a rate that’s 2-3 times higher than that of the general population. In addition, about 17% of veterans with PTSD show symptoms of problematic gambling.

Researchers have also found that military experiences and post-deployment stress are associated with higher problem gambling rates among American veterans.

What to Do When a Service Member or Retired Veteran Gambles Too Much

Gambling becomes a problem when it has a negative impact on life. That impact can take the form of money arguments with a partner, lack of money to pay for necessities, or losing track of time while gambling. A problem gambler might seemingly gamble all the time or they might gamble in binges.

Take the quiz to find out if you or someone you love is at risk.

Veterans can find help by contacting their VA medical center or clinic. Make the Connection, by the Department of Veterans Affairs, also shares mental well-being resources for active-duty or retired service members.

For Lancaster or Lebanon resources, call the Compass Mark team at 717-299-2831.

 

 

March Madness Will Cost Employers $2.1 Billion in 2017 [Gambling in the News]

March Madness will generate an estimated $2.1 billion loss for employers in 2017. In addition, experts say that nearly 24 million American workers will spend company time researching and choosing their tournament brackets this year.

The projections, made by outplacement firm Challenger, Gray, and Christmas, are higher than workplace losses in previous years. In 2015, the same analysis predicted losses of about $1.9 billion for employers.

These productivity losses are huge, but the fact is that problem gambling can have a significant, lasting impact on workplaces. Problem gambling is a condition in which a person can no longer control their betting behavior. It affects an estimated 4-6 million Americans from all genders, ages, and ethnicities. This diagnosable condition is associated with a range of activities, including sports betting (like March Madness), casino games, horse racing, online games, mobile apps, and lotteries.

Some addicted gamblers wager every day; others go on periodic binges. Yet no matter what form gambling addiction takes, it has the same emotional, financial, and even physical impact. When a worker struggles with the condition, it can also expose employers to the risk of gambling-related fraud.

Signs of Problem Gambling in the Workplace

  • Increasing tardiness or absenteeism
  • Decline in productivity
  • Asking for pay advances or for pay in lieu of vacation/sick time
  • Losing track of time over lunch or other allotted breaks
  • Borrowing money from coworkers
  • Receiving personal credit card statements or bills at work
  • Declining personal appearance or grooming habits
  • Preoccupation with gambling

Learn more in Problem Gambling: 4 Facts for Lancaster, Lebanon Businesses and Is Your Business at Risk for Gambling-Related Fraud? 6 Gotta-Ask Questions.

Find additional resources for gambling prevention, education, and treatment referrals in Lancaster, PA and Lebanon, PA by contacting Compass Mark at 717-299-2831.

 

 

Average Problem Gambler’s Debt: $38,090 [Gambling in the News]

$38,090. That’s the average debt of a problem gambler, according to the Wisconsin Council on Problem Gambling.

The organization fielded 13,081 calls to its helpline in 2016, many from people expressing desperation over their situation or that of a loved one. In a Post-Crescent article, Rose Blozinski, executive director of the Wisconsin Council on Problem Gambling, recalled one case where a man called because his sister had run up $100,000 in gambling-related debt and had tried to commit suicide.

Excessive gambling is not a money problem.

Debt is a symptom of problem gambling. A person can engage in unhealthy betting behaviors regardless of their financial status. Compulsive gambling is actually rooted in the brain. Numerous studies have identified differences between problem gamblers’ brains and those of non-gamblers. For example, one recent study found that gambling addiction activates the same brain regions as those stimulated by drug addiction.

The solution to gambling addiction is not to pay off the gambler’s debts.

Helping a gambler pay down debts doesn’t solve the problem. Rather it can enable a gambler to continue the behavior. The path to recovery lies in a comprehensive treatment plan that includes a combination of therapies, such as:

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy, which helps the gambler “rewire” his or her thought processes;
  • Self-help groups, which provide a safe place for a problem gambler to find support from those in the same situation;
  • Stress reduction activities, which can help decrease cravings to bet;
  • Lifestyle changes, such as eliminating time spent in unhealthy situations, like visiting a casino with friends;
  • Financial counseling, which can provide smart money and debt management techniques to get back on track.
Learn More about Treating Problem Gambling

If you’re in the Lancaster or Lebanon area, visit our list of treatment providers with expertise in gambling addiction. You can also get in touch with our Compass Mark team for referrals, intervention information, and prevention resources. Call us at 717-299-2831 or use our online Get Help form.

 

Parkinson’s Meds Linked to Higher Risk of Problem Gambling [Research]

Common drug treatments for Parkinson’s disease are linked to compulsive gambling and other conditions, according to a recent scientific review by a team from Loyola Medicine and Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine.

The review linked the class of drugs, which controls tremors and other symptoms, to a range of impulse-related disorders, including problem gambling, hypersexuality, compulsive eating, and compulsive shopping.

While it’s possible to treat the impulse issues by switching, reducing, or stopping the suspected medications, patients are often reluctant to change Parkinson’s treatments because they fear their condition will worsen, according to the report. Stopping the drugs may also produce withdrawal symptoms, such as depression, anxiety, and panic attacks in some patients.

The review’s authors suggest that alternative strategies, such as cognitive behavioral therapy, could help manage impulse disorders in patients. They also stressed the importance of the role of Parkinson’s patients’ family members. Along with caregivers, family members can help by reporting out-of-character behavior that suggests an impulse control disorder.

Signs of Gambling Problems in Seniors
  • Acting evasively or lying about time or money spent gambling;
  • Inability to account for time spent gambling;
  • Uncharacteristic decline in personal care, which may include not taking necessary medications;
  • Increase in calls from bill collectors;
  • Engaging in frequent arguments about money or bills;
  • Cashing out life insurance policies, retirement funds, or other earmarked accounts;
  • Selling valuables or heirlooms.

If you’re concerned about an older loved one’s gambling behavior, reach out for help now. Talk with the Compass Mark team for confidential guidance or referrals to resources in Lancaster, PA and Lebanon, PA.

 

How to Keep Your Resolution to Reduce or Stop Gambling

For many Americans, it’s time to make New Year’s resolutions: promises we make to ourselves to change our behavior in a positive way. If your gambling creates problems that keep you awake at night or it sparks conflict in your relationships, it might be time to change that behavior so you can live the life you deserve. Here’s how to keep a resolution to decrease or stop gambling this upcoming year.

Join a gambling self-help group.

Groups like Gamblers Anonymous (GA) can provide the support network you need to stop problem gambling behaviors. GA’s recovery program is based on the 12-step model that seeks to help people recognize their negative behavior and the impact it has on their life and the lives of those around them. The group is open to anyone who wants to stop gambling, and there’s no cost to attend. Find a GA meeting near you.

Seek professional counseling.

A professional therapist can be an ideal partner for reducing gambling in the new year. He or she will talk with you to learn more about your behavior, concerns, lifestyle, and more. Then the counselor will make recommendations for treatment and recovery.

Treatment for problem gambling usually includes a range of therapies that support each other. The foundation is talk therapy, which will help you recognize your behavior and its impact, as well as identify your personal gambling triggers. You’ll learn practical strategies to deal with those triggers in a more positive way so you can avoid relapses. Additional therapies vary, and they may include family/marriage counseling, financial/debt counseling, and, when necessary, substance abuse help or treatment. Find a gambling addiction treatment provider in Lebanon County, Lancaster County, and the surrounding areas.

Commit to lifestyle changes.

Stress is a primary trigger for many problem gamblers. Learning to reduce stress in a healthy way can reduce the craving to gamble and support long-term recovery. You’ll discover many different ways to dial down stress, but some of the more common methods include:

  • Physical exercise;
  • Meditation;
  • Journaling;
  • Hobbies, including crafts, music, art, and more;
  • Volunteer work.

Additional problem gambling resources in PA

Begin your new year by taking positive steps toward reducing or eliminating the gambling behavior that keeps you awake at night or affects your relationships. For more judgment-free guidance, contact Compass Mark at 717-299-2831 or use this simple gambling help form.

 

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.

 

The Holiday Gifts You Shouldn’t Give to Your Kiddos: Problem Gambling Prevention

Got your holiday shopping wrapped up yet? (Pun intended!) Well, if you’re still hunting down presents for your younglings, there are a few ideas you may want to avoid: gambling-related toys and games.

What harm can gambling toys & games do to kids?

These types of gifts can increase a child’s potential for developing problem gambling, a diagnosable condition that impacts the gambler and their loved ones emotionally, physically, and financially.

Children and teens who begin to gamble at an early age are at higher risk for gambling problems later in life. However, a specific type of game may be putting even more kids at risk: gambling apps. Many kids’ wish lists include tablets or other mobile devices that give them access to games, including those with gambling themes.

Research suggests that youth who play simulated gambling games—those that don’t require actual money to play—are more likely to report gambling problems. Experts believe this is because gambling-type apps reinforce winning behavior without exposing kids to the real-world consequences of losing. Learn more in Simulated Gambling May Be a Gamble for Kids.

If you give tech gifts this year, engage parental controls to ensure your child can’t access gambling apps.

Other holiday gift ideas can reinforce unhealthy gambling behavior, too. Avoid giving kids gifts like:

  • Casino-themed card or board games, such as toy roulette sets;
  • Gambling-themed items, like slot machine piggy banks;
  • Scratch-off lottery cards.

Signs of Problem Gambling in Children & Teens

Now and throughout the year, stay alert for red flags that suggest your child or teen may have a gambling problem. Signs include:

  • Experiences mood swings based on whether they’ve won or lost;
  • Neglects school or work responsibilities to gamble or play gambling-type apps;
  • Begins hanging out with a new set of friends;
  • Steals or lies for money;
  • Sells prized possessions;
  • Shows a sudden interest in sports stats or scores (in those addicted to sports gambling).

A counselor trained to work with problem gamblers can assess and diagnose at-risk or addictive gambling behavior in a child or teenager. Call Compass Mark at 717-299-2831 for confidential guidance or visit Gambling Treatment Resources in Lancaster and Lebanon.

 

Prevent Gambling Addiction Relapse: Tips for Navigating the Holidays

As the holiday season approaches, stress levels tend to increase—and that sometimes presents challenges for people in recovery from gambling addiction. Here are tips to help you reduce the urge to gamble when holiday craziness starts to get under your skin:

Know your triggers.

Stress is a common relapse trigger, but it’s not the only one. Even if you’ve gone through the process of identifying triggers before, now is a good time to review them. This will help keep them at the top of your mind, so as triggers appear you can recognize them and take action.

Connect with a self-help group.

A community of people living with the same problems and urges as you can be a valuable tool for maintaining recovery. Gamblers Anonymous is a support group specifically for those with problem gambling. Members provide each other with support and share resources in a confidential environment. Find a Gamblers Anonymous meeting in PA.

Reduce or eliminate alcohol intake.

From office parties to family get-togethers, alcohol is common at holiday functions. Be aware that alcohol lowers inhibitions and that can make you vulnerable to relapse.

Avoid situations that include gambling.

Family traditions that involve wagering, like poker games, can be hard to navigate. However, your emotional well-being and long-term recovery is more important than any family tradition. Excuse yourself from gambling-related entertainment, and grab a loved one to do another—healthier—activity with you.

Be vigilant about financial temptation.

The holidays tend to get crazy with errands—errands that often involve money. Avoid carrying large amounts of cash or keeping extra money in bank accounts to which you have access. If you start feeling stressed and know the cash is available, it can lead to a gambling relapse.

For confidential guidance or to find gambling addiction treatment resources in Lancaster, PA and Lebanon, PA, call Compass Mark at (717) 299-2831 or submit this online help form.

 

5 Problem Gambling Myths Exposed

When it comes to addiction, what you don’t know can hurt you or a loved one. Learn the top myths about problem gambling so you’re better able to identify a potential problem or help a loved one.

1. Problem gambling suggests bad morals or a lack of willpower.

False. Excessive gambling behavior is a diagnosable condition, like other addiction-related disorders. It doesn’t discriminate, and it impacts people of any age, gender, or ethnic background. Numerous studies suggest links between compulsive gambling behavior and the brain. For example, those with a weaker neural connection between two specific brain regions are more likely to be risky gamblers. Another study discovered that problem gamblers showed higher activity levels in brain regions linked to rewards.

2. Excessive gambling is a money problem.

False. Problem gambling is a condition related to a range of risk factors, including substance abuse, family history of addiction, and starting to gamble at an early age. Gambling addiction affects healthy decision-making regardless of financial resources or money management skills.

3. To have a gambling problem, the person needs to gamble every day.

False. While some problem gamblers may seem to bet online 24/7 or spend all their time sitting in front of slots, others gamble in intermittent binges. The truth is that gambling becomes a problem any time it impacts the gambler’s relationships, financial situation, and emotional or physical health.

4. A problem gambler will stop gambling if you pay off his or her debt.

False. Paying their gambling debt provides temporary financial relief, however it does nothing to reboot the gambler’s brain so they can start the recovery journey. In reality, paying off the debt can actually drive them deeper into the addiction because they’re prevented from feeling the real-world consequences of their behavior.

5. An elderly person won’t quit gambling.

False. Don’t buy into the belief that a loved one is too “set in their ways” to change. Gambling addiction is treatable at any age. Reach out to a counselor specifically trained to work with problem gamblers. If possible, find a problem gambling counselor who also has experience working with seniors. It is never too late to change. And when the gambler is an older person, it’s critical to find gambling help sooner rather than later.

Take the quiz on our home page to learn whether you or someone you love is at risk for developing problem gambling.

To find gambling addiction treatment or prevention resources in Lancaster County or Lebanon County, contact our team for nonjudgmental guidance. Call 717-299-2831 or fill out our Gambling Help Form.