Gambling Addiction: Taking the Fantasy Out of Fantasy Football

Fantasy football players say that Draft Day is one of the most anticipated days of the year, according to a recent survey by SurveyMonkey and About 63% of the approximately 2,000 fantasy players surveyed described themselves as “big fans,” and 20% said Draft Day is the most anticipated day of their year–beating out Christmas and birthdays.

The fantasy football survey revealed other interesting statistics as well. Among people who play the game:

  • 29% spend at least an hour each week adjusting their lineups during work;
  • 65% check scores while in the bathroom;
  • 50% check scores over holiday dinners;
  • 36% check in on their teams during work meetings;
  • 33% play fantasy football to socialize with family and friends.

Fantasy football can trigger real-life consequences.

For many Americans, fantasy football is a fun way to enjoy a sport they love and connect with family and friends. For others, however, fantasy football can be a risky activity that contributes to problem gambling—a fact that may be surprising considering the game often takes place over a period of weeks and the primary payout usually comes to winners at season’s end.

In truth, any activity that stakes money on an outcome is gambling. It doesn’t matter if that money is staked on a poker game, lottery ticket, basketball tournament, or fantasy football league.

Last year, for example, The New York Times shared the story of a man with a gambling problem that spiraled out of control when he played fantasy football. The man eventually lost $20,000 on daily online fantasy sports games and additional tens of thousands on illegal sports bets.

Find gambling help in Lancaster, PA.

Are you worried that your fantasy football play is getting out of control? Are you concerned about a loved one’s betting behavior? Take the gambling risk quiz.

Let the Compass Mark team direct you to problem gambling treatment and prevention in Lancaster County, PA and Lebanon County, PA. For confidential, no-judgment guidance, call us at 717-299-2831 or fill out our Help Form.


Gambling: America’s 2nd Favorite Way to Spend Money Online While Drinking [Survey]

Online gambling is the second favorite money-spending activity for Americans who hit the Internet after they’ve been drinking alcohol. The consumer survey was conducted by personal finance comparison website to evaluate America’s online shopping/drinking habits. It uncovered that 6.2% of participants said they had gambled online while inebriated.

The findings also revealed a gender difference: men who spent money online while drunk reported gambling as the most frequent activity—10% of male participants had done it compared with 4% of female respondents.

Clothing and shoe purchases topped the overall list, with about 7% of the 3,123 participants saying they’d bought these items online while drinking.

Alcohol-induced purchases are a familiar topic on some lifestyle websites, often boasting headlines like 17 of the Worst Drunk Purchases Ever. They’re intended to be lighthearted articles; however they underscore the fact that alcohol abuse lowers inhibitions. It might seem funny when a person’s drunk-purchased a taxidermied squirrel dressed like Napoleon—but when inhibitions regarding unhealthy gambling behavior disappear the stakes can be far higher. Gambling while drinking may raise the risk for problem gambling, particularly among those already at an elevated risk.

Alcohol Abuse & Problem Gambling

Alcohol abuse and problem gambling often occur hand-in-hand. Experts estimate 73% of compulsive gamblers–those with the most serious form of the disorder–struggle with alcohol abuse. About 45% of people with problem gambling–those who gamble enough that it has a negative impact on their life–have an alcohol use disorder too.

Recovery from alcohol abuse & problem gambling is possible.

You or your loved one can recover and build a life guided by positive choices and renewed hope. A professional therapist can assess a problem gambler/alcohol abuser and recommend a coordinated treatment plan that addresses these as well as any underlying issues that may contribute to the behaviors.

Find a Problem Gambling Therapist in Lancaster or Lebanon. You can also call Compass Mark at 717-299-2831 for prevention resources and judgment-free guidance.

Get the information you need to make positive changes.

Take the quiz on our home page to learn if you or a loved one is at risk for problem gambling.


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.


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.

“Do I Have a Gambling Problem?” 6 Questions to Ask Yourself

A few games…a few dollars…gambling was no big deal when you first started. But perhaps now it’s morphing into something more. Maybe it’s starting to impact the decisions you make or your relationships with family and friends. You might find yourself asking, “Do I have a gambling problem?” Here are 6 questions to ask:

Have I lied about my gambling activities?

You may have told a spouse that the money you lost at the casino was stolen from your car. Perhaps you’ve minimized an online poker game screen when someone walked into the room. Problem gamblers are often secretive about how much they’ve lost playing and how frequently they gamble.

Have family members or friends expressed concern about my behavior?

Gambling too much will cause conflict in relationships with partners, parents, and others. Those who love you and know you best may already see the signs that gambling has gone too far. They may express worry or fear over how much time you spend playing or how much money you’ve lost.

Do I gamble even when I don’t have money?

The checking account has $48 and you still hit the slots; or you gamble despite knowing that if you lose, the rent money will be gone; or you ask for a paycheck advance because you know you can’t make it until payday. Wagering even when you have no money is a sign you may have a gambling addiction.

Have I stolen or committed fraud…or “borrowed” money without someone’s knowledge?

In recent local news, gambling addiction allegedly led a Harrisburg, PA doctor to become involved in a prescription writing scheme. It’s not uncommon for people addicted to gambling to commit crimes to fund the behavior. Some problem gamblers will even tell themselves they are “borrowing” the money and that they’ll pay it back with the next big win.If you are committing crimes to find money to gamble or to pay bills because you’ve lost money wagering, then it’s time to get help.

Do I gamble to make myself feel better?

Maybe you visit online betting sites to relieve stress after a long day caring for the kids. Or perhaps you go to the casino because you’ve been lonely since the death of a spouse. Excessive gambling is not a healthy coping strategy for negative emotions. In fact, this kind of coping strategy is likely creating even more conflict, stress, and anxiety in your life.

Have I tried to stop gambling, without success?

Like substance addiction, gambling addiction is a progressive medical condition. People with problem gambling may try to stop on their own—and they may be able to white-knuckle it for a short period—but eventually something will drive the gambler back to the thrill of the wager.

Gambling addiction can be treated.  

You are not alone. If you suspect a gambling problem, an addiction professional can assess the behavior and develop a treatment plan. To find compulsive gambling services and resources in Lancaster, PA and Lebanon, PA, contact Compass Mark. Since 1966, we’ve been helping people just like you break free from addiction.  Call our team at (717) 299-2831 or use this simple online help form. The call is confidential and judgment-free.

Gambling Myths – Are They Getting a Teen You Know in Trouble?

I can win this football pool if I know all the players’ stats.

I’m good at video games, so I’ll be good at online gambling.

Those of us who live with or work with teens (or both) understand that the adolescent brain is far from mature. As a result, they’re at higher risk for developing addictive behaviors, like compulsive gambling. Sometimes the seeds for problem gambling are sown in the myths youth believe, including:

Gambling is “no big deal.”

Youth gambling is a “big deal.” First, it’s illegal. In Pennsylvania, the legal gambling age is 21 for casinos and gaming facilities and 18 for the lottery. The consequences of being caught gambling underage can be especially real for student athletes, who may have scholarship or eligibility obligations that require them to stay out of trouble.

Children and teens who develop problem gambling behaviors are also laying the foundation for lifelong addiction. Kids who begin to gamble early in life have an increased risk of developing more severe gambling problems as adults, betting more frequently and experiencing more serious related issues than those who start wagering later.

I play video games, so I’ll be good at video or online gambling.

A video game, whether it’s racing go-karts or battling demons, requires skill, often acquired over time through practice. Online slots and other video-type games of chance are just that: games of chance. Winning or losing does not depend on the child’s level of experience or ability to play strategically. The casino or gambling website is supposed to win—and the games are designed for exactly that purpose.

It’s easy to win if you know what you’re doing.

On average, about 33% of youth in a 2008 study said that practice would make them more successful gamblers. Among 8 to 11 year olds, that number was nearly 50%. Furthermore, almost 20% of youth said that skill could help win even completely random games, such as roulette.

The idea that knowledge is the key to winning is also common with youth who bet on sports. For instance, a teen might feel he has a much better chance of winning if he knows how often a team wins when it plays outdoors in January, or if he knows that Bob All Star sinks every 3-pointer during nighttime home games. The reality is that a game is just that—a game. Anything can happen, regardless of a team or a player’s past performance.

It’s okay because my parents do it.

A home environment that includes regular parental gambling can send the message that it’s fine for the teen to wager as well. In some families, youth may even play games like blackjack or poker with parents and other relatives. Research shows that the children of problem gamblers start playing earlier than their peers. Remember: kids who gamble earlier in life have a higher risk of developing compulsive gambling behaviors later.

I can stop if I want to.

If a youth or teen has tried to stop gambling but has been unable to do so, he or she needs professional treatment. Find the resources to help a youth in Lancaster or Lebanon by calling Compass Mark at (717) 299-2831 or using the online help form.

Do you work with kids? Compass Mark offers We Know BETter, a problem gambling awareness program for children in grades 4-8.  This free curriculum teaches youth the decision-making and coping skills they need to make smart decisions about gambling. Call (717) 299-2831 to learn more.


Is Gambling Addiction Causing Suicidal Thoughts?

Have you considered suicide to escape from your gambling problems? Do you have a friend or family member who has talked about committing suicide because of an addiction to poker, slots, sports betting, or perhaps gambling websites?

Do not wait to get help!

If excessive gambling is causing serious emotional and financial problems and you’re thinking about suicide, call CONTACT Lancaster Helpline at (717) 299-4855 or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Volunteers are available 24 hours a day to listen to your fears and concerns.

If you are worried that a friend or family member is in danger of attempting suicide, call emergency services immediately.

To learn more about the link between suicide and gambling addiction, read the Compass Mark Suicide and Problem Gambling FAQ Guide, or contact us at (717) 299-2831.

Gambling Addiction News: Casinos to Use Free Online Play to Attract Gamblers

Some conventional casinos are preparing to go virtual by offering free-to-play online poker. Experts say the free games will allow bricks-and-mortar casinos to establish a foothold in the online gambling industry while Pennsylvania and other states consider the legalization of gambling over the Internet. Online poker is also expected to drive gamblers to the casinos’ conventional facilities.

Although many will be able to enjoy the games responsibly, online play gives Lancaster and Lebanon residents who struggle with compulsive gambling an additional avenue for engaging in excessive behavior 24/7. If gambling is causing anxiety, stress, relationship problems, or financial worries, it’s time to get help. Compass Mark will guide you to gambling addiction resources in Lancaster and Lebanon. For info, use the online help form, or call our team at (717) 299-2831.

Online Gambling a Bad Bet, Experts Say

Internet gambling poses increasing challenges for society. That’s the assessment of experts at a recent conference sponsored by the Connecticut Council on Problem Gambling. What exactly are those challenges for families, educators, and mental health professionals?

The experts said online gambling…

  • Lures in children with free play, priming them to gamble legally when they reach 18.
  • Attracts youth by offering accounts that don’t verify the gambler’s age.
  • Offers anytime-anywhere accessibility through mobile devices, like tablets and smartphones.
  • Creates an anonymous, gender-neutral environment that makes some women more comfortable gambling because they can play without fear of unwanted advances from men.
  • Provides opportunities for a person to gamble recklessly while drunk, a practice not permitted in most conventional casinos.
  • Employs electronic payment transactions, making it easy for a gambler to quickly drain a bank account or pile up credit card gambling debt.

If you’re a parent, educator, or mental health professional who needs gambling addiction resources in Lancaster or Lebanon, PA, contact us through our online help form, or call us at (717) 299-2831. The Compass Mark team will provide the assistance you need to find addiction help for a loved one or to provide problem gambling awareness education.

Teen Gambling – 3 Talking Points Parents Need to Know

As the 2012 political race nears its end, we’ve all been subjected to each party’s seemingly endless talking points. And while we might get the urge to plug our ears rather than hear the same scripted political notes spouted over and over, talking points can be helpful conversation starters for parents who want to guide their teens, especially when talking about a danger kids may not recognize yet, like gambling addiction.

The next time you and your child are together and you see an ad for a Pennsylvania casino or surf past a poker tournament on TV, use these points to jumpstart a conversation about the dangers of problem gambling:

Teen Talking Point #1: Gambling doesn’t just happen in casinos; it can be done anytime, anywhere.

Paint a clear picture of what gambling looks like. For example, it’s not just the senior sitting at a slot machine plugging away. Gambling behavior includes buying into the lottery, betting on sports events, and playing on Internet casinos. It can be done in person, on a computer, or with a smartphone. This type of explanation starts to build a framework your teen can use to make smarter decisions about what they’re going to engage in.

Teen Talking Point #2: Gambling is not a way for you to make money.

The brain of a teenager is still growing and learning; we can’t expect them to make the same financially-sound decisions that we expect from adults. That’s why it is essential to explain how the business of gambling works. Help your son or daughter understand that casinos (online or off) are in business to make money. The gambling industry is so good at it, in fact, that they generate billions in revenue annually. That revenue comes directly from the gamblers, and the facilities work hard to ensure the odds are in their own favor. The house is designed to win.

Teen Talking Point #3: Problem gambling has long-term consequences that you don’t want to deal with.

No one loses their house or destroys their credit by constantly losing at Angry Birds. On the other hand, gambling addiction has a profound effect that lasts years or even decades.

  • Financial trouble: Excessive betting drains bank accounts—fast. Have a conversation with your teen about what happens when money is gambled away. He or she could be left scrambling for rent money or be turned down for a car loan. In addition, using a credit card to gamble too much can hurt more than just the wallet; increasingly employers are using credit checks to weed out potentially risky job candidates.
  • Legal messes: It’s common for someone in the depths of addiction to commit illegal acts to find money for gambling. Many gamblers justify the behavior by telling themselves they’ll pay it back after the next big win. But that big win never comes, that web of fraud becomes thicker, and eventually someone finds out what’s happening to the money. Result? Jail time, fines, and a legal hassle no one wants to go through.
  • Relationship damage: Gambling problems put strain on any relationship, whether it’s with a best friend or a new love. Create a two-way conversation by asking your teen to explain how they think a gambling problem might affect the people they love most.

With betting facilities within a short drive of Lancaster and Lebanon plus easy access to online betting, kids moving into young adulthood need the tools to make reasoned decisions about acceptable gambling behavior. Start your conversation today.

If you need more info about problem gambling, Compass Mark will help. We’re an experienced local team with the resources to refer families, counselors, and teachers to gambling addiction education and help in Lancaster and Lebanon. Contact us via the online help form, or call (717) 299-2831.