College Gambling: Facts for Parents

The July 4th holiday is only a few weeks behind us and already stores are packing aisles with back-to-college supplies, from bed sheets to notebooks to tech toys. As you prepare your nearly-adult child to head off to the world of higher education, take time to open up a conversation about the dangers of problem gambling.

Fact: 75% of college students gamble.
The campus environment already presents potential dangers to kids, from sexual assault to alcohol to other drugs. Gambling is a risky activity as well. While many Americans can gamble without negative consequences, others develop problem gambling, a diagnosable condition that impacts every aspect of life, including relationships, physical health, substance use, and finances.

Fact: 6% of college students have a life-impacting gambling problem.
This rate is about double that of the general population. Students who struggle at this level also struggle to live their lives. Signs of a gambling problem in college include:

  • Falling grades;
  • Declining class attendance;
  • Failing relationships with family, friends, and significant others;
  • Mood swings related to wins and losses;
  • Increasing debt;
  • Stealing or lying to get money;
  • Pawning or selling possessions;
  • Increased risk of substance use;
  • Increased risk of depression and suicide.

Fact: You can influence how your college-age child makes decisions.
It can be scary to consider that the little boy or girl you seemingly just cradled in your arms is now moving into a world in which you’ll have far less control over the environment. The best tool for success that you can give your child is to start an open and non-confrontational discussion about risky behaviors, including gambling.

  • Find out whether the college has a gambling policy; if it does, discuss it with your adolescent. Gambling may be barred on campus, so make sure you and your child review the school’s policy and talk about potential consequences. Consider also that student athletes, in particular, may be prohibited from gambling at the risk of lost playing time or scholarships.
  • Find out the gambling laws for the state where your child will attend school.
    If your college student is under the state’s legal gambling age, let him or her know that gambling is illegal for them. In PA, the legal gambling age is 21 for casinos and 18 for racetracks.
  • Talk about the financial dangers of gambling.
    It’s likely school-related debt is already at the top of your family’s collective mind. Remind your student that gambling debt can add significantly to what is already a daunting obligation.
  • Have a conversation about drinking and gambling.
    Alcohol lowers inhibitions and reduces the ability to make rational decisions about many things, including wagers. Chat with your college kid about avoiding the supersized physical and emotional hangover that comes from gambling while drinking—there are few worse ways to start the day than to realize you lost $200 last night betting on how many shots a classmate could drink.

For more information about college problem gambling prevention and treatment resources in Central PA, contact Compass Mark at 717-299-2831 or fill out our Help Form.


New Survey to Examine Link Between Domestic Violence and Gambling

What’s the relationship between problem gambling and domestic violence? The Council on Compulsive Gambling of New Jersey (CCGNJ) has launched a new survey to find out.

The nine-question online survey, which is open to New Jersey residents, asks respondents about gambling behavior as well as its impact on mood and abusive behavior. The nonprofit will use the results to better understand the connection between disordered gambling and intimate partner abuse and violence.

CCGNJ’s initiative will hopefully add to the growing body of research that continues to identify a link between problem gambling and an increased risk of abuse. For example:

  • A study of men ordered by courts to participate in domestic violence perpetrator intervention programs found 9% met the criteria for pathological gambling and 17% showed at least some problem gambling behaviors–both rates higher than that of the general population.
  • Research suggests up to 50% of compulsive gamblers’ spouses reported verbal abuse.
  • About 65% of problem gamblers in one study said they’d committed domestic violence or had been the victim of it in the previous year.
Find Help for Domestic Violence

Problem gambling is a diagnosable condition that creates a home environment rife with stress, anxiety, and fear. Yet, no one deserves physical, sexual, verbal, or emotional abuse. If you, your children, or your aging parents are being abused, you can’t afford to wait until your partner gets his or her gambling under control.

Reach out for help now. Contact:

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

Find Help for Gambling Addiction

While problem gambling can contribute to domestic violence, the reverse is also true. Some people use gambling as a way to escape a turbulent home environment. If you’ve turned to gambling to relieve the extreme stress of living in an abusive home, seek help.

Contact a counselor able to guide you through the next steps of your journey. He or she will assess your immediate and long-term needs, including domestic violence resources and a problem gambling treatment plan. For compassionate guidance to the right gambling help resources, contact Compass Mark at 717-299-2831 or fill out our Help Form.


Why Do Gamblers Gamble? [Infographic]

Gambling is a harmless form of entertainment for millions of American adults. However, more than five million Americans struggle with gambling addiction, a diagnosable condition that negatively impacts every aspect of their lives.

Excessive gambling is still viewed by some as a weakness or vice that can be stopped by simply exerting more willpower. Yet a growing body of research shows it’s a condition rooted in a complex brew of sources that can include genetic, biological, and environmental factors.

But why does anyone gamble in the first place? The Psychology of Gambling infographic, developed by Injury Free Nova Scotia and shared via Kings Community Action Group on Gambling, shares insights on how gambling affects the way a person thinks and makes decisions.

Learn more below, and then take this assessment quiz to determine your risk for developing problem gambling. To find gambling addiction education and treatment resources in Lancaster, PA and Lebanon, PA, call Compass Mark at 717-299-2831 or use our simple Compulsive Gambling Help Form.




How to Know if You’re Living with a Problem Gambler: Quiz

Maybe you suspect your partner has a gambling problem, but he claims he’s simply blowing off steam at the race track. Perhaps your partner has started lying to explain why her paycheck seemingly disappears each week. It’s not always easy to know if someone has a problem with gambling; unlike alcohol or drug abuse there are few apparent physical clues. This guide will help you determine if it’s time to reach out for compulsive gambling help.

Gambling addiction is a progressive disorder that causes emotional, physical, and financial strain on the gambler—and those he or she loves. People with unhealthy gambling behavior are more likely to have depression, struggle with alcohol abuse, and experience serious family dysfunction, including partner and child abuse. They’re also at a higher risk for suicide.

Is your loved one addicted to gambling?

Take the quiz below, which was shared by Gam-Anon, a self-help group for people affected by a loved one’s problem gambling. The quiz isn’t a formal diagnostic tool, but it can help you determine if it’s time to talk with a professional counselor.

Do you find yourself constantly bothered by bill collectors?

Is the person in question often away from home for long, unexplained periods of time?

Does this person ever lose time from work due to gambling?

Do you feel that this person cannot be trusted with money?

Does the person in question faithfully promise that he or she will stop gambling; beg, plead for another chance, yet gamble again and again?

Does this person ever gamble longer than he or she intended to, until the last dollar is gone?

Does this person immediately return to gambling to try to recover losses, or to win more?

Does this person ever gamble to get money to solve financial difficulties or have unrealistic expectations that gambling will bring the family material comfort and wealth?

Does this person borrow money to gamble with or to pay gambling debts?

Has this person’s reputation ever suffered due to gambling, even to the extent of committing illegal acts to finance gambling?

Have you come to the point of hiding money needed for living expenses, knowing that you and the rest of the family may go without food and clothing if you do not?

Do you search this person’s clothing or go through his or her wallet when the opportunity presents itself, or otherwise check on his/her activities?

Does the person in question hide his or her money?

Have you noticed a personality change in the gambler as his or her gambling progresses?

Does the person in question consistently lie to cover up or deny his or her gambling activities?

Does this person use guilt induction as a method of shifting responsibilities for his or her gambling upon you?

Do you attempt to anticipate this person’s moods, or try to control his or her life?

Does this person ever suffer from remorse or depression due to gambling, sometimes to the point of self-destruction?

Has the gambling ever brought you to the point of threatening to break up the family unit?

Do you feel that your life together is a nightmare?

Did you answer “yes” a lot? Find help in Lancaster, PA or Lebanon, PA.

Being with a person who struggles with compulsive gambling can feel overwhelming. At Compass Mark, we’ll provide confidential, judgment-free guidance to local problem gambling resources. Call 717-299-2831 or use our Compulsive Gambling Help Form.

If you’re interested in finding support with a Gam-Anon group, visit Find a Meeting in PA.


Depression Rates High Among Problem Gamblers [Research]

Depression and problem gambling too often go hand-in-hand; it’s a link addiction health care providers and researchers have recognized for years. Now, recently released findings add further support to the connection between mental well-being and gambling addiction, a condition that impacts up to 3% of Americans.

The University of Quebec’s long-term study, which started following more than 1,100 economically-disadvantaged kindergarten boys in 1984, discovered that 3% have now developed problem gambling, a number at the high end of the 1-3% prevalence rate found in other studies.

Of those who developed gambling problems, nearly 75% showed signs of depression. What’s more, researchers found the depressive behaviors appeared to develop alongside problem gambling, with both behaviors generally becoming more severe over time.

Learn more about the connection between these conditions in Does Depression Cause Gambling Addiction?

Compulsive Gambling, Depression, & Suicide

Problem gambling is linked to high rates of suicide attempts and suicide. Studies estimate, for example, that up to 24% of compulsive gamblers have made a suicide attempt. For U.S. veterans struggling with pathological gambling, the rate of those who’ve attempted gambling-related suicide skyrockets to 64%.

Likewise, severe depression and suicide are deeply connected. Over 90% of people who commit suicide have clinical depression or another diagnosable mental health condition.

A problem gambler with depression symptoms needs professional care from a provider trained to treat unhealthy gambling behavior. Visit Treatment Providers for a list of resources in Lancaster and Lebanon.

Suicide Prevention Help

Reach out immediately if you’re thinking about taking your life. Call the confidential National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or call Lancaster Crisis Intervention at 717-394-2631.

If someone you know is considering suicide, call 911 or local emergency services. Learn more about preventing suicide by contacting Mental Health America of Lancaster County at 717-397-7461.

Gambling Addiction Help

Take the quiz on the SafeStakes home page to find out if you or a loved one is at risk for problem gambling. For confidential, free guidance to addiction help resources in Lancaster, PA or Lebanon, PA, call the Compass Mark referral team at 717-299-2831 or fill out our Problem Gambling Help Form.


Did March Madness Lead to “April Sadness”? PA Gambling Addiction Help Tips

As the squeak of tournament sneakers fades from our ears many sports fans forget about their March Madness wagers and move on with life. Some, however, feel a buzz from gambling that doesn’t fade after the big sports betting season is done.

In an interview with ESPN, Victor Ortiz, a senior director at the Massachusetts Council on Compulsive Gamblers, said sports betting-related calls to the state’s gambling problem help line spike in April—with callers reporting gambling debts from $10,000 to $100, 000. Ortiz told ESPN:

“Guys play through football season, then try to keep it going or catch up during March Madness. Then, when the NCAA tournament is over, I think it kind of hits them. For most people, there’s March Madness. In my world, it’s April Sadness.”

Do You Have A Gambling Problem?

Here are signs you may be struggling with compulsive gambling:

  • You neglect work or family to gamble.
  • You’ve become secretive about finances.
  • You constantly think or talk about gambling.
  • You’ve been evasive about how much time you’ve spent betting.
  • You experience mood swings based on whether you’re winning or losing.
  • You’ve tapped into funds earmarked for other purposes, like school or retirement.
  • You borrow money from others—without their permission.

Take the quiz on the SafeStakes home page to find out if you’re at risk for gambling addiction.

How to Stop the Madness

Gambling addiction is a serious condition that’s far more than a money problem. People addicted to gambling have attempted or committed suicide, left young children alone in cars in casino parking lots, gambled away retirement savings, and stolen from loved ones or employers. Compulsive gamblers are also more likely to be involved in domestic violence situations and more likely to be separated or divorced.

  • Reach out for help. Compulsive gambling is treatable with a combination of talk therapy and self-help groups, like Gamblers Anonymous. In some cases, an addicted gambler might be prescribed medication that reduces the urge to gamble. Find a treatment provider in Lancaster or Lebanon by visiting Treatment Resources.
  • Encourage affected loved ones to find help. Like other addictions, this one impacts more than just the addicted person. Your loved ones—even young children—may be struggling with frustration, guilt, sadness, or anger. Professional therapy can help them identify and cope with emotions in a healthy way so each family member has the opportunity to heal.

For confidential, judgment-free addiction treatment guidance in Lancaster, PA or Lebanon, PA, contact Compass Mark at 717-299-2831 or use our online Get Help form.


March Madness Costs U.S. Employers Nearly $2 Billion

American businesses are expected to lose $1.9 billion in productivity during the 2015 NCAA basketball tournament, according to estimates from outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas. Ouch! Whether employees are filling out brackets or the boss is watching games from his or her desk, there’s no question that some businesses are less productive during March Madness.

But Workplace Gambling is Much More Than a Productivity Problem.

For many workers, betting on the annual tournament is a diversion—a form of entertainment and a way to connect socially with others. While it lowers productivity and saps resources (like bandwidth), the distraction is usually temporary.

However, for some people, wagering on March Madness and other sporting events, such as the Super Bowl, can raise the risk for gambling addiction, a brain condition in which a person can’t control the urge to gamble. To learn more, visit March Madness- Potential Gateway to Problem Gambling?

Why is Problem Gambling a Problem for Employers?

Compulsive gambling can be as destructive as other addictions—and it can have a similar impact on the workplace. A person struggling with this addiction cannot control their urge to bet, and, as a result, he or she spends time obsessing over their next wager instead of handling workplace responsibilities. Problem gamblers may also have increased rates of absenteeism or tardiness. Additionally, they’re at higher risk for other conditions that affect workplace performance, including clinical depression and substance abuse.

Some people with gambling problems may also commit workplace crimes, like theft or fraud, to fund the addiction. A study of major U.S. fraud cases in 2013 discovered that gambling was a motivating factor in 24% of the crimes.

Do You Have a Workplace Gambling Policy?

Your company likely has policies in place to protect the business and its employees from substance abuse in the workplace. A gambling policy works in the same way, defining appropriate behavior while at work and developing a framework for dealing with violations and treatment referrals. Consult a human resources professional about creating a workplace gambling policy at your business.

If you’re an employer in Lancaster, PA or Lebanon, PA and would like to learn more about protecting your business from problem gambling, contact Compass Mark at 717-299-2831. We offer gambling addiction education and treatment resources.

Find more information by checking out:


Some Online Gamblers More Likely to Chase Losses Than Others [Addiction Research]

Some online gamblers may be more likely to chase losses than others, according to a study recently reviewed on The Worldwide Addiction Gambling Education Report (WAGER). The researchers, who collected data on nearly 11,000 online gamblers, found that those who played online casinos were more likely to chase losses than those who played only online poker.

Why the difference? The study’s authors note that the poker players might be less likely because, in part, poker books, tutorials, and websites warn gamblers against the dangers of chasing losses.

In addition, the researchers found that gamblers who were more prone to chasing losses were also more likely to believe in two common fallacies connected to gambling addiction. The first is the Gambler’s Fallacy, which is the idea that the gambler is “due” for a win after a losing streak, and the second is known as the Hot Hand Fallacy, in which the gambler believes that a lucky streak will continue to produce wins.

Warning Signs of Gambling Addiction

Chasing losses is just one warning sign of compulsive gambling. Here are other red flags that indicate gambling is having a serious negative impact on a person’s life:

  • Declining performance at school or in the workplace;
  • Withdrawing from family & friends;
  • Being secretive about time or money spent gambling;
  • Gambling after the money runs out;
  • Borrowing money from family, friends, colleagues, or peers;
  • Unsuccessful attempts to stop on his/her own.

Find out whether you or a loved one is at risk by taking the quiz on our home page.

Treatment for Gambling Addiction

Problem gambling can be treated by a counselor trained specifically to work with this condition. Talk therapy is usually the foundation for treatment, but additional strategies may help support recovery as well. A gambling addiction counselor might recommend self-help group meetings (like Gamblers Anonymous), stress relief techniques, financial counseling, and/or family therapy.

If you’re an educator, health care professional, or employer, Compass Mark offers gambling addiction resources in Lancaster County and Lebanon County. Whether you need prevention materials or treatment referrals, our team will guide you in the right direction. Contact us at (717) 299-2831.


Time to Stop Gambling? 3 Steps to a New You in the New Year

An estimated 40% of Americans make New Year’s resolutions–yet research suggests just about 8% of those folks achieve their goals. So if your goal for 2016 is to cut back or eliminate unhealthy gambling behavior, how can you give yourself the best foundation for success?

1. Reach out for professional help. 

Some gamblers may be able to reduce their behavior with goal setting or lifestyle changes—many others need the guidance of a professional counselor to curb the cravings to bet. This progressive condition, which is formally classified as an addictive disorder, alters how the brain makes decisions, just as alcohol and other drugs change a substance abuser’s brain.

A professional therapist—one specifically trained to work with this addiction—offers the tools and resources to help a problem gambler retrain his or her brain. Therapists for compulsive gambling often use cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), a form of talk therapy, as the foundation for healing. It’s typically used in conjunction with other therapies, such as family/marriage counseling, financial counseling, alternative therapies (like equine therapy), and support groups, like Gamblers Anonymous.

Find Problem Gambling Treatment Providers in Lancaster and Lebanon.

2. Make lifestyle changes.
Stress is one of the most common triggers for unhealthy gambling behaviors. If you can lower stress in a healthier way, it will help reduce the urge to wager. Different stress relief techniques work for different people, so you may need to try a few different activities until you find the strategy that works best. Activities that help reduce stress include:

  • Meditation;
  • Physical exercise;
  • Mind-body exercise (yoga or martial arts);
  • Creative activities (writing, crocheting, woodworking, or painting);
  • Outdoor activities (walking, hiking, or gardening);
  • New hobbies (music lessons, art classes).

3. Self-exclude yourself from gambling in PA.
The state of Pennsylvania allows gamblers to voluntarily ban themselves from gambling in licensed facilities. People who violate their self-exclusion agreement can be arrested and charged with trespassing. Visit PA’s Self-Exclusion FAQs for details. While adding your name to the list isn’t a cure for gambling addiction, it can help you avoid the temptation to bet at casinos or racetracks.

Since each state has its own self-exclusion process, you may need to add your name to lists in more than one state. For more information, visit Maryland Gaming Resources and New Jersey Self-Exclusion Program.

Take a positive step into 2016!

For problem gambling prevention education, resources, and treatment referrals, contact Compass Mark at 717-299-2831 or use our online help form. We’ll guide you into a new year that offers hope and healing.


Don’t Gamble Away the Holidays- Tips to Relieve Stress, Find Help

The holidays are a time of joy, celebration, and giving…except when they’re not. For many, holiday mode often brings an overloaded to-do list, endless errands, tired and off-schedule kids, or the frustration of dealing with family. The problem is that the stress can nudge you into unhealthy stress relief behaviors, including gambling.

Problem gambling is a condition in which gambling behavior negatively impacts the gambler and the lives of his or her loved ones. Numerous factors play a role in its development, and, for those who are at risk, the hustle and stress of the holidays can start a person on the path to compulsive gambling.

Learn if you’re at risk for gambling addiction by taking the SafeStakes quiz on our home page.

How does the holiday season impact gambling behavior?

Stress: While our to-do list seems to double during the holidays, the length of our days does not. Many of us find ourselves baking cookies at odd hours or battling traffic and crowds to get errands done. People cope with stress in a variety of ways: some soak in a hot bath, others write in a journal, and some will gamble.

Depression: The holiday season sometimes amplifies major life changes or transitions. When a person is struggling with a divorce or grieving the loss of a loved one, it can seem reasonable to find solace or “lose yourself” in an activity like gambling, which offers excitement and the alluring promise of a Big Win.

Alcohol abuse: From binge drinking at holiday parties to having a couple of glasses of wine after a busy day, those who turn to alcohol for stress relief may also find themselves more vulnerable to gambling addiction. Learn more in When a Loved One is an Alcoholic and Compulsive Gambler.

Here’s how to stay healthy at holiday time:

1. Find good-for-you stress relief strategies.

There are as many ways to unwind as there are to display that Elf on the Shelf. Make time for those healthy activities that help your body and mind slow down and relax.

  • Do a relaxing activity, like taking a bath or a long walk.
  • Engage in something creative, such as writing, painting, or woodworking.
  • Practice yoga, meditation, or deep breathing.
  • Exercise regularly.
  • Eat a healthful diet.
  • Get the proper amount of sleep.

2. Seek help if you have concerns about gambling.

Trained counselors have the know-how and tools to diagnose problem gambling as well as contributing conditions, like depression or alcohol abuse. Talk therapy is usually the foundation for gambling treatment, but, in some cases, medication is also used. Support groups, like Gamblers Anonymous, are an important recovery tool for some problem gamblers too. Check out:

If you’d like more information about problem gambling prevention or treatment, contact the Compass Mark team by using this help form or by calling (717) 299-2831. We’ll point you toward the path that leads to a healthier life for you and your loved ones.