PA Casino Readies Itself for Legal Online Gambling [News]

Are PA casinos preparing for legal online gambling? Yes, according to an official from one of the state’s leading casino operators.

Parx Casino recently partnered with an online gaming company to launch a free-play gambling website. The site, which is expected to go live in late 2014, will offer free-to-play online slots to players nationwide. However, the venture is also expected to provide the infrastructure to launch real-money gambling in the future.  The chief technology officer (CTO) for Greenwood Entertainment and Racing, which owns the casino, said:

“[…] Parx Casino will have the opportunity to launch simulated gaming nationwide before year’s end and be well prepared in the event regulation of real-money Internet gaming emerges in the state of Pennsylvania.” [Source Article]

It’s worth noting that in neighboring New Jersey, which began offering regulated Internet gambling to state residents in 2013, has seen online game revenue fall short of expectations, according to Bloomberg Businessweek. The state had estimated legal online gambling would generate up to $180 million in tax revenue its first year; however, those numbers were recently revised to $34 million for the first year and $55 million for the following year.

Potential Dangers of Legal Online Gambling

Many gamblers can play for fun without negatively impacting their lives.  However, problem gambling affects 2-3% of Americans, while gambling addiction, the most serious form of the disorder, affects about 1% of Americans.

In fact, the reality is that problem gambling impacts the lives of many millions more. For example, the spouse of an addicted gambler may be left scrambling to pay bills when the gambler has wagered away a paycheck. A child feels the loss when a gambling-addicted parent gets caught up in playing online slots instead of helping with homework. Even employers and co-workers are impacted by problem gamblers who are late, absent, or less productive because of their condition.

Licensed Internet gambling in PA has the potential to increase 24/7 gaming access to people already struggling with the addiction as well as boost exposure to those at risk of developing the condition.

Find out more by reading these articles:

Will PA Legalize Online Gambling?

Licensed Online Gambling- 4 Ways It Raises the Risk for Problem Gambling

Self-Imposed Online Gambling Limits May Help Reduce Betting [Research]

Problem Gambling Help in PA

Gambling addiction is preventable and treatable. Compass Mark guides individuals, families, educators, employers, and health professionals to prevention and treatment resources in Lancaster, Lebanon, and the surrounding area. Call our team at (717) 299-2831, or fill out the simple online help form.


Simulated Gambling Activities Linked to Teen Problem Gambling Risk [Research]

Adolescents who reported playing simulated gambling activities were more likely to report one or more symptoms of gambling-related problems, according to research reviewed on The WAGER (The Worldwide Addiction Gambling Education Report).

The study, which surveyed more than 1,200 Australian adolescents, found that more than 30% had played a simulated gambling activity, like those available through smartphones or social networks. These teens were more likely to be at risk for problem gambling.

While the study didn’t examine whether the simulated gambling occurred before the onset of problem gambling-related symptoms, it’s clear that parents and educators should be aware that teens playing these apps are at higher risk for developing a life-altering addiction. For additional info, check out Can Gambling Become an Addiction?

Other studies have also suggested these types of games could have a potentially dangerous impact. For example, one study discovered that gamblers who played free-play (or practice) mode games were more likely to bet “significantly” higher amounts when they bet on additional rounds with real money. Learn more in Free-Play Gambling Spurs Higher Bets in Real Money Games [Research].

Gambling Addiction in Teens: Warning Signs

  • Spends increasing amounts of time playing gambling-type apps or games
  • Shows decreased performance at school or in other activities
  • Lies or acts evasively about time spent gambling or playing simulated gambling apps
  • Sells or pawns personal belongings
  • Spends less time with family or friends
  • Has unexplained absences from classes or other responsibilities
  • Experiences mood swings based on success: happy while winning, depressed or anxious when losing
  • Commits theft or fraud

Find out if a teen you know is at risk by taking the quiz on the SafeStakes home page.

Visit these resources to learn more about adolescents and gambling apps:

Gambling Apps-FAQs

Gambling for Kids- There May Be an App for That

How to Prevent Teen Gambling: A Parent’s Guide

Are you a parent, educator, or counselor worried about a teen’s gambling? Let Compass Mark help. We’ll point you to education and prevention resources, as well as treatment information for the Lancaster-Lebanon area. Contact our team at (717) 299-2831 or fill out the online help form.


Parents: Could Candy Crush & Similar Games Lead to Gambling Addiction?

Even if you don’t play social media games, like Candy Crush, you likely know someone who does. While plenty of people are able to harmlessly enjoy these apps, some experts worry that teens who play them are being primed for problem gambling.

What’s the big deal?

Candy Crush and other social games typically offer a free-play mode as well as pay-for-access features. However, regardless of whether the game is free or paid, these activities may introduce youth to the perceived rewards and excitement of gambling. Mark Griffiths, director of Nottingham Trent University’s International Gaming Research Unit, said in an interview shared by Mail Online, “When you start winning, you start thinking that if I was playing with real money, I could be doing quite well.” He also noted, “Games like Candy Crush have a moreishness quality, a bit like chocolate. You say you’ll just have one chunk and you end up having the whole lot. So you say, ‘I’ll just play for 15 minutes’ and you end up still there four or five hours later.”

Protect kids & teens from being primed for problem gambling.

Research suggests that the earlier youth begin gambling, the more likely they are to develop compulsive gambling later in life. You can take action—right now—to reduce the chance your child will gamble away their future.

  • Talk with your children and teens about gambling. It’s not enough to monitor what your kids do on your/their devices. Children and teenagers don’t fully understand how much gambling can impact their relationships, academic success, and financial future, so give them the information they need to make healthy decisions. Get tips for starting a conversation in Teen Gambling- 3 Talking Points Parents Need to Know.
  • Prohibit or limit playing time. Limiting screen time is always a good idea, but it’s extra important to be vigilant with games and apps. Use blocking software or parental controls to block gaming websites/apps or limit game-playing time.
  • Monitor activity. Know what he or she is doing with a smartphone or tablet. Regularly check devices, social media activity, and financial accounts to make sure they’re not playing restricted games or spending real money to play.
  • Watch for signs of gambling addiction. Be on alert for declining academic performance, unexplained school absences, borrowing money from others, and mood swings related to game success or failure. Learn more red flags in Gambling Addiction and Kids.

If you’re concerned your child  or teen already struggles with a gambling problem, seek professional guidance. Compass Mark helps families in Lancaster, PA and Lebanon, PA break free from addiction. Our assistance is judgment-free and confidential. Call our team at (717) 299-2831 or fill out this simple help form.

Would you like to see gambling prevention and education in your child’s school? Compass Mark offers a free program for children in grades 4-8. The We Know BETter awareness curriculum uses kid-friendly, age-appropriate activities to help students learn about addiction, practice refusal skills, and improve coping strategies. Ask your child’s school to contact us to learn more.

Will PA Legalize Online Gambling? Gambling in the News

Legalized online gambling could generate over $300 million in revenue annually in Pennsylvania, according to an Econsult Solutions report ordered by the PA Legislative Budget and Finance Committee. However, addiction specialists, health care professionals, educators, and others are left to ask: What will the cost be to those at risk for problem gambling and those already struggling with it?

Pennsylvania lawmakers are faced with a potential $1 billion budget gap, making the legalization and taxation of online gambling an attractive topic to some. The report, detailed by Bloomberg Businessweek, examined the possible impact of online gaming through the state’s existing casinos, which have seen revenues drop over the last several years—a trend experts feel will continue. Furthermore, the analysts believe the move would create new business rather than steal current business from the casinos’ physical locations.

It’s worth noting that in New Jersey, which legalized online gambling for state residents last year, revenue has fallen well short of expectations.

Potential Dangers of Legal Online Gambling

While many are able to enjoy online poker, slots, and other games of chance responsibly, others will develop gambling addiction, a condition in which a person can no longer control their urge to play. (Learn more: What is Problem Gambling?) Compulsive gamblers don’t just drain their bank accounts—the behavior also threatens their relationships, career, and emotional well-being. In fact, people addicted to gambling have among the highest suicide rates of any addiction.  The dangers of legalized online gambling in Pennsylvania include:

  • Gambling would be available 24/7/365. PA gamblers would no longer need to wait for the end of their workday or a free weekend to make a trip to the casino or racetrack. Legal online games will put licensed gambling at their fingertips anytime, whether it’s after the kids go to bed or between meetings at the office.
  • Gamblers can play while intoxicated or high. Casino employees typically stop visibly intoxicated players from placing bets. When someone gambles from their home, office, or car, there may not be anyone to prevent him or her from gambling away big bucks while using substances.
  • Gambling becomes more accessible to kids. Some children and teens are adept at getting around roadblocks, including those related to technology. Although gambling websites often set a minimum age for play, most don’t feature a robust age verification system, leaving the virtual door open for tech-savvy kids.

To learn more about gambling addiction education, prevention, and treatment, contact Compass Mark. We help individuals, families, educators, HR professionals, and health care professionals in Lebanon and Lancaster. Call (717) 299-2831.


Gambling Apps – FAQs

Did you receive a tablet over the holidays? Perhaps a Kindle or smartphone? New gadgets give us the chance to find apps that provide fun and entertainment. For some people, that fun will include apps offering poker and other casino-related games. Check out these gambling app FAQs:

What are gambling apps?

They are downloadable games that offer a variety of wagering-type activities, including poker, blackjack, and virtual slots. Many have a real-world look and feel that’s much like actual casino play. Some gambling apps mimic popular board games or TV game shows. When you download one onto a smartphone or tablet, you’ll get access to casino-type games anytime, anywhere. Some apps are free, while others must be purchased.

Can I bet with real money?

That depends on the game. Some use pretend money or tokens and are marketed as a way to have fun or practice gambling skills. All money and prizes are fictitious, regardless of wins or losses. Other gambling apps allow a player to wager using real money.

Are gambling apps harmful?

That depends. Just as with real-life games, many people are able to enjoy these apps without a problem. In others, however, the games can lead to problem gambling, a progressive disorder in which a person can no longer control the urge to bet. Gambling addiction destroys relationships with family and friends and leads to tremendous levels of anxiety and stress. The average debt for a problem gambler is around $43,000, according to the National Council on Problem Gambling. Gambling-addicted people often feel hopeless and helpless, so the condition also leads to an increased risk of suicide.

But playing for pretend money is fine, right?

Not necessarily. Researchers found that people who had played free games bet “significantly” higher amounts when playing subsequent games with actual money. In addition, play-for-free games have payout rates nearly 40% higher than those of games using real money. It’s believed these free-play games create the false illusion that a gambler will have a higher chance of winning when they move onto real play. As a result, the player may be more likely to bet higher, expecting a big pay-off. However, gambling is a game of chance—and those chances are determined by the gambling app designer.

Can I play gambling apps safely?

Many people can play safely as long as they treat the game as a form of entertainment. Betting is not a healthy way to relieve negative emotions, like stress, loneliness, or anxiety. It’s also not a method for making money. Another way to play responsibly is to set time and money limits.  Additionally, never gamble while drinking alcohol because it will reduce your ability to make reasonable decisions about when to stop playing.

What are the signs of gambling addiction?

  • Becoming increasingly preoccupied with gambling
  • Neglecting family, friends, work, or school
  • Lying about how much time or money is spent gambling
  • Experiencing mood swings related to wins or losses
  • Lying, stealing, or committing fraud to find money to gamble or cover expenses

If you’re concerned that you or a loved one has developed problem gambling, help is available. Compass Mark provides gambling addiction guidance and referrals in Lancaster, PA and Lebanon, PA. Contact us at (717) 299-2831 or fill out this simple help form.



Licensed Online Gambling- 4 Ways It Raises the Risk for Problem Gambling

For many people, gambling on the Internet can be a fun form of entertainment. For others, however, a few hands of online poker turn into a few more…and then a few more…and before anyone realizes what’s going on, an entire weekend has disappeared—along with the rent money.

Problem gambling affects millions of gamblers and their friends, families, and co-workers. About 2-3% of Americans engage in gambling behaviors that directly impact their lives, while about 1% struggle with gambling addiction, the most serious form of the disorder.

Pennsylvania residents have access to gambling through licensed facilities, like casinos and off-track wagering centers. While the state hasn’t yet licensed online gambling, New Jersey and Delaware have, making it likely only a matter of time before PA lawmakers consider granting permission for the state’s facilities to offer Internet gaming to residents.

The challenge is that online wagering offers additional risks for people vulnerable to developing problem gambling behavior:

  • Alcohol-Gambling Mix: Casinos and wagering facilities serving alcohol can cut off visibly intoxicated patrons. In addition, a person drinking at a licensed facility is more likely to be in the presence of friends able to say, “Let’s go, we’ve had enough.” Online gambling allows a person to play while intoxicated, from the isolation of home, a car, or workplace desk. Drinking impacts the ability to make reasonable and healthy decisions, which means that mixing alcohol and wagering can result in serious and continued losses.
  • Speed of Play: Gamblers playing at licensed locations may wager at a more leisurely rate.  A person might stop to watch a friend play a few hands or walk the floor looking for a better table. In contrast, online gambling enables a person to sit in front of the screen, uninterrupted, for hours at a time. Furthermore, Internet gaming sometimes offers auto-play, a feature that lets the player place wagers without actually pressing a button—a computer quickly places bets for the gambler, making it potentially easier to lose more in a shorter period of time.
  • Lack of Spending or Time Limits:  Licensed online gambling may not have limits stringent enough to protect those vulnerable to problem gambling. For example, New Jersey currently allows a person to place monthly limits on his or her online play, but the system is voluntary.
  • Potential Availability to Children & Teens: Many parents know all too well how easily some kids navigate around safety measures. While licensed Internet gambling is supposed to be available only to people of legal gambling age, it’s possible some children and teens will find ways around established safeguards. This can be especially harmful because children who start gambling early in life are more vulnerable to developing gambling addiction as adults.

If you’re an educator, employer, or mental health professional who would like more information about problem gambling prevention and treatment in Lancaster County or Lebanon County, call Compass Mark at (717) 299-2831. We have the resources to help you help your students, employees, or clients.


Worst Christmas Gifts for Kids- Problem Gambling Edition

Whether you’re shopping for your children, the grandkids, or a favorite niece or nephew, you know how important it is to choose just the right gift…the one that brings squeals of delight. However, that hunt for the Perfect Present can lead to gifts that open the door to problem gambling, a silent addiction that affects millions of Americans.

Why should parents and other family members be concerned about gambling in kids and teenagers? Research suggests that the earlier a child starts gambling the more likely he or she is to develop severe gambling problems later in life. People addicted to gambling have higher rates of suicide than those addicted to substances, like alcohol or drugs. In addition, problem gamblers have high rates of separation, divorce, and intimate partner violence.

One way gift-givers can avoid promoting gambling behavior in children is by staying away from these gift ideas:

  • Mobile & Tablet Gambling Apps– Smartphones and tablets are hot gifts this year—and so are the games that go with them. Apps that mimic casino games or incorporate gambling can prime a child for gambling addiction, even if the game doesn’t involve the use of real money. Learn more in Gambling for Kids? There May Be An App For That. If you’re giving tech this holiday season, don’t load it with gambling-related apps. Kids may still be able to access them through Amazon, iTunes, or Google Play, so it’s also a good idea to install filtering or monitoring software. This allows you to get a handle on whether the child is using the device to play questionable apps.
  • Lottery Tickets– Scratch-off lottery tickets can seem like a unique stocking stuffer, but there’s potential danger in giving them to a kid you love. Researchers at Yale found that teenagers who had received lottery ticket gifts as children were more likely to have problem gambling behaviors than those who had not. Learn more here.
  • CasinoRelated Toys­– From pretend casino coins to piggy banks shaped like slot machines to handheld electronic poker games, these types of toys can help glamorize gambling behavior in the eyes of a child.

There are so many great gift ideas to choose from…why risk a child’s future well-being by choosing one that may contribute to the development of an addiction that impacts every facet of his or her life?

For more info on helping your child make healthy decisions about gambling, check out How to Prevent Teen Gambling- A Parent’s Guide.

If you’re worried that someone you love is already struggling with gambling addiction, contact Compass Mark. Our team provides confidential guidance so you can find problem gambling treatment in Lancaster, PA and Lebanon, PA. Call (717) 299-2831, or use this simple online help form.


Compulsive Gambling Research Round-Up and News, Part 3

It’s time for Compass Mark’s regular round-up of research and news in problem gambling prevention and treatment. Here’s the latest:

Level of Parental Supervision Linked to Gambling Risk

Stronger supervision by parents during early adolescence may lower the risk of problem gambling in young adulthood, suggests a study from Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health. According to researchers, kids who had poor parental supervision at age 11, and declining supervision over the next 3 years, were much more likely to have developed problem gambling by age 22 than those with strong, consistent supervision levels. This study is the first to identify parental supervision as a way to reduce problem gambling behaviors in youth. (PsychCentral)

Learn more about kids and gambling in How to Prevent Teen Gambling and 4 Tips for Talking with Your College Kid about Problem Gambling Dangers.

Research IDs Factors in Problem Gambling Relapse

Recovering gambling addicts were more likely to relapse when they felt more gambling-related urges, had trouble with work and social adjustment, and retained false beliefs about gambling (such as their level of control over the game). The study, from researchers in Australia, highlights the need for addicted gamblers to work with a licensed gambling counselor able to provide care that addresses all relapse risk factors. (WAGER)

Check out Gambling Addiction- What Are Your Treatment Options?

Online Gambling Comes to NJ

New Jersey has begun testing its new online gambling websites, and, if the tests go well, the sites are expected to go live this week. New Jersey is one of several states, including Delaware, to allow its gambling facilities to offer online play. The sites will use geo-location software to verify players are within the state’s borders. New Jersey’s gambling industry has seen revenue fall over the last few years, and it sees online poker and casino games as a way to revitalize itself. However, legalized Internet gambling allows residents to play anytime, anywhere, raising the risk that some will develop a devastating gambling addiction. (Business Insider)

Learn more in Online Gambling FAQs.

Say What?

It seems the phrase “problem gambling” means different things to different people. Ohio’s problem gambling hotline found that 54% of callers weren’t looking for info to overcome a gambling addiction. Instead, more than half of calls were from gamblers seeking lottery numbers or info about casinos and racetracks. (

Compulsive gambling is a problem that has real consequences for gamblers and their loved ones. Contact Compass Mark for addiction help resources in Lancaster and Lebanon.  Whether you need help for yourself or for someone else, we’ll point you to the right place. Use our help form, or call our team at (717) 299-2831.



Free-Play Gambling Spurs Higher Bets in Real Money Games [Research]

Free-play online gambling may not be free after all. Gamblers who played free poker bet “significantly” more when they played subsequent rounds with real money, according to a recent study. The research, from the University of Adelaide in Australia, examined behavior in three groups of young people ages 18-24:

  • One group that received a high return on free-play games
  • One group that received a high return on free-play games and pop-up messages encouraging them to continue to play
  • One control group

The study found that the group with high returns and the group receiving both high returns and encouragement bet much more than the control group when they moved on to real-play mode.

In an article about the research, study author Tahnee Frahn notes the findings are especially concerning given that previous research has demonstrated that some gambling sites offer higher payout rates in free-play mode (also called demo or practice mode) than in games played for actual money. (For example, in another study researchers analyzed payout rates for 117 Internet casinos and discovered that 39% provided higher payout rates on free-play or demo mode than in real-play mode.)

Frahn also says that demo modes can create the illusion that practice will help the gambler get better at the game. However, in reality the gambler is playing a game of chance, in which no amount of practice can create a better outcome.

Warning Signs of Online Gambling Addiction

  • Decrease in performance at school or work
  • Gambling online during work or class
  • Unable or unwilling to account for time spent gambling online
  • Gambling online even when he or she doesn’t have money
  • Chasing losses to win back money
  • Borrowing money from family, friends, or colleagues to play
  • Making unsuccessful attempts to stop gambling on his or her own
  • Committing  illegal acts, like theft, fraud, or forgery, to get money
  • Increasingly anxious, stressed, or depressed

Help for Compulsive Internet Gambling

If you or a loved one is struggling with problem gambling, help is available in Lancaster and Lebanon. Compass Mark provides confidential referrals and guidance for people and families affected by this addiction. Contact our team at (717) 299-2831 or use the online help form. You can also learn more by reading:

Online Gambling a Bad Bet, Experts Say

Tips for Parents of Teen Online Gamblers

Gambling for Kids? There May Be an App for That

How to Block Online Gambling Sites from a Computer

Resources for Educators, Counselors, and Mental Health Professionals

Help your students, clients, and patients by learning more about online gambling addiction. Call Compass Mark at (717) 299-2831 for information about problem gambling resources, training sessions, or the We Know BETter gambling awareness program for kids in grades 4-8.

Online Gambling FAQs

Blackjack in the bedroom. Slots during soccer practice. Gamblers no longer need to trek to casinos or off-track wagering facilities to play their games of choice. Online casinos now offer gamblers play 24/7/365 via computers, tablets, and smartphones. While Internet gambling remains illegal in most states, offshore websites provide anytime, anywhere wagering opportunities for residents in Lancaster and Lebanon.

Can I become addicted to online gambling?

Yes. Just like substance addictions, compulsive gambling causes changes within the brain that affect the ability to make reasonable decisions. It is an impulse-control disorder that compels the addicted person to bet even when they’re broke or cannot afford to lose. The addiction produces a high that can be triggered by any gambling environment, online or off. Problem gambling can affect anyone, no matter their age, gender, or economic status.

What are the signs of Internet gambling addiction?

  • Neglecting family, school, work, or other responsibilities
  • Lying about how time is spent while online
  • Hiding or minimizing web browser windows when disturbed
  • Borrowing money from friends or family to gamble or cover expenses
  • Gambling with money earmarked for long-term expenses, like college funds or retirement savings
  • Experiencing severe moods swings related to wins or losses
  • Stealing or committing fraud for money

But it’s harmless if I’m not playing for real money, right?

A number of states are expected to legalize online gambling in the coming months and years. In the meantime, there are U.S. websites that offer free-to-play games or gambling with “pretend” money. Experts warn these games can hook people, priming them for online play with real money or driving them into nearby casinos.

Is there treatment for compulsive online gambling?

Yes. Addiction specialists develop treatment plans based on an individual’s situation. However, most recovery programs include therapy focused on changing unhealthy thoughts and actions as well as teaching strategies for resisting urges. Many programs also provide access to financial counseling. In addition, compulsive gambling treatment usually includes group support through Gamblers Anonymous or similar programs. In some cases, a health professional may prescribe specific medications to supplement therapy.

What other steps can I take to help myself or a loved one?

  • Block online gambling sites. Software programs can prevent a device, like a computer or tablet, from accessing Internet casinos. Learn more in How to Block Online Gambling Sites.
  • Cut off access to credit/debit cards and bank accounts. Online gambling sites that use real money require players to deposit funds electronically. By severing access to these accounts, it becomes harder for the gambler to play.
  • Seek help for yourself and other family members.  If a loved one struggles with a gambling problem, support from others can help you cope.   Partners and family members of the addicted person should consider joining a support group, like Gam-Anon.

For Internet gambling addiction resources, contact Compass Mark at (717) 299-2831 or use this help form. We’ll direct you to Lancaster and Lebanon resources that will help you or an addicted family member find a path toward healing.