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

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

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

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

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

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


Man Attributes $40 Million Fraud to Gambling [News, Help Resources]

A New York man is alleged to have stolen $40 million from family, friends, and a hedge fund foundation. His lawyers say the man’s actions were driven by a gambling addiction.

Federal prosecutors say Andrew Caspersen, a former Wall Street executive described as “well respected,” ran a Ponzi-type scheme, according to The New York Times. He’s accused of using five fake investment vehicles to fleece investors of money. Caspersen’s victims reportedly include his own family members, who invested more than $3 million with him. He’s alleged to have used the money to trade aggressive options on the stock market, sometimes betting all of his available cash in a single week.

In the article, the man’s attorney said the addiction began with casino and sports betting but later turned into betting on the stock market.  The lawyer said, “He had every intention of paying everyone back. This is a pathological gambling addiction.”

Gambling Addiction Can Develop in Anyone

Compulsive gambling—like other addictions—does not discriminate. It doesn’t care if you’re a grandmother or a Wall Street executive. It doesn’t care about age, gender, race, ethnicity, religion, or socio-economic status. It doesn’t care if the gambler is “well respected.”

How to Know if You or Someone You Care About is Addicted to Gambling

Signs of gambling addiction include:

  • Increasing preoccupation with gambling;
  • Lying or acting evasively when questioned about the behavior;
  • Using money earmarked for specific things (retirement, education, etc.) to gamble;
  • Promising to pay back borrowed money but doesn’t;
  • Missing work or calling in late because of gambling;
  • Increasing use of alcohol or other substances;
  • Increasing calls from debt collectors;
  • Inability or unwillingness to account for paychecks or other income sources.

Take the quiz on our website to learn whether you or a loved one, friend, or employee is at risk for developing this addiction.

Problem Gambling is Treatable

People who struggle with gambling problems can find a path to recovery. Counselors trained to work specifically with this addiction have the tools and resources to create a treatment plan. But the process starts with that first important step: asking for help.

Compass Mark offers guidance to people who want to break free from gambling addiction. Whether you’re concerned about your own behavior or worried about someone you know, we’ll point you to help in Lancaster, PA and Lebanon, PA. Contact our team for non-judgmental guidance at 717-299-2831 or use the Gambling Problems Help Form.

Learn more in:

Problem Gambling- 4 Facts for Lancaster, Lebanon Businesses
Is a Loved One Addicted to Gambling? 5 Tips for Family, Friends
Teens: Sex, Drugs, and…Gambling? What Parents Need to Know  

Simulated Gambling May Be a Gamble for Kids [Research]

Kids who play simulated gambling games, like free poker or casino-style games, are more likely to gamble and report gambling problems later in life, according to a recent discussion paper from the Australian Gambling Research Centre (AGRC). It also cited evidence suggesting about 20% of adolescents playing simulated gambling will transition to gambling for real money.

In addition, the authors note that the players reported the primary reason they move from simulated to commercial gambling is to win money. It’s worth noting that 25% of the teens who reported gambling for real money said they’d switched to simulated games to avoid losing money.

The AGRC’s Dr. Anna Thomas said in a release:

“Young people are being introduced to gambling at a far younger age than in previous generations when to be able to gamble you had to gain entry to a venue, meet dress codes and produce identification.

“Today people are much more likely to have a realistic gambling-type experience at a young age and this may increase the extent to which gambling is seen as normal, acceptable, attractive and relatively harmless.”

Reasons Free or Practice Games are a Gamble for Kids & Teens
  • These games reinforce winning behavior with credits or prizes but don’t expose players to the consequences of losses (i.e. losing real money).
  • Studies suggest free-to-play and practice games offer higher “payouts” than gambling that involves real money.
  • Researchers have found that players who gamble on free simulated games bet “significantly” more than other players when they later wager with real money.
  • Simulated games may give players an inflated sense of skill level, providing a confidence boost that attracts them to real money games—even though gambling success is based on luck and not skill.
Learn more about gambling in children and adolescents.

Tips for Parents of Teen Online Gamblers
Fantasy Football: Priming Kids for Problem Gambling?
Is Your College Student at Risk for Problem Gambling? How to Start a Conversation

If you’re a parent or loved one worried about a youth’s simulated play or real-money gambling, take this risk assessment quiz. For additional information, contact our team for free, confidential guidance.

Are you an educator, youth group leader, or other concerned professional? Compass Mark offers We Know BETter, a free gambling education and awareness program designed for children in grades 4-8. Learn more by contacting us at (717) 299-2831


Online Gambling Addiction: 8 Warning Signs

As access to legal online gambling increases, the risk for unhealthy gambling behavior increases as well. Here are warning signs that you or someone you love might be at risk for problem gambling:

1. Spending increasing amounts of time betting online or using gambling-type apps;

2. Minimizing browser screens when someone comes nearby;

3. Experiencing mood swings based on wins or losses;

4. Increasingly obsessed with gambling-type apps, even those that allow free-play;

5. Gambling online as part of the daily routine (for example, always playing over lunch or during a child’s sports practice);

6. Lying or acting evasively about time or money spent online;

7. Calling in sick to stay home and gamble online or play gambling apps;

8. Increasing debt.

To find out if you or someone you care about is at risk for developing problem gambling, take the SafeStakes Gambling Risk Quiz. If the results suggest you’re in danger of developing a gambling problem, it’s never too early or too late to seek help. Contact Compass Mark for confidential guidance and help resources in Lancaster, PA or Lebanon, PA. Call our team at 717-299-2831 or fill out a Gambling Addiction Help Form.


Worried About Your Gambling? 7 Reasons to Seek Help Now

Need info on gambling addiction? The fact that you’re searching for information suggests you sense something isn’t quite right.  Don’t wait until you hit rock bottom to reach out for help. Find out why you should seek treatment for gambling addiction now.

1. You deserve a life free from the stress, loneliness, and pain of addiction.
It’s time to stop obsessing about the next Big Win or stressing about how you’ll pay bills. It’s time to start living life again…time to begin healing relationships…time to refocus on work…time to sleep at night. Even if you’ve made mistakes in the past, even if you’ve hurt yourself or others, you deserve a chance at a better life.

2. Problem gambling affects everyone around you.
A spouse, a partner, young children, parents…the fallout of an addiction to gambling impacts everyone in your world. The never-ending hunt for the thrill of the wager separates you from loved ones, destroying relationships.

3. Gambling is increasingly hard to get away from.
In years past, depending on where a person lived, gambling wasn’t always easy to access. The player had to travel to a casino or racetrack, or perhaps connect with a bookie. Now games are available 24/7 to anyone with web access, creating an environment that makes it harder for someone with a problem to resist the urge to gamble.

4. Alcohol abuse and problem gambling often occur together.
Sometimes addicted gamblers begin to drink excessively to relieve the anxiety of problem gambling. Others start gambling too much because they’re already abusing alcohol and have a difficult time making healthy decisions. Regardless of which condition develops first, alcohol abuse has serious negative emotional and physical consequences for the gambler and those around him.

5. Gambling addiction increases the risk for suicide.
Up to 24% of problem gamblers report attempting suicide—among the highest suicide rates for any addiction. Unlike alcohol and other drugs, there are few physical signs to alert loved ones to the problem, leaving the compulsive gambler to struggle alone. The result can be feelings of hopelessness and despair.

6. Problem gambling is a medical condition.
Struggling with the urge to bet has nothing to do with how much willpower you have. Researchers have discovered the brains of compulsive gamblers are different than those of non-gamblers. For example, imaging studies suggest that those with this addiction show brain activity similar to that of people addicted to drugs.

7. Gambling addiction requires professional treatment.
You can heal. Because compulsive gamblers make decisions differently than those without addiction, you’ll need guidance from a professional. Visit our treatment page for a list of trained providers in the Lancaster and Lebanon areas. Professional counselors will also assess you for substance abuse or other conditions that may contribute to gambling addiction. Many problem gamblers also use self-help groups, like Gamblers Anonymous, to maintain recovery. Find a meeting here.

To learn more about compulsive gambling education, prevention, and treatment resources, contact Compass Mark. Call our team at (717) 299-2831, or fill out our help form. Our guidance is free and confidential.


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.


4 Reasons to Get Problem Gambling Help

Worried about how much you lost playing slots at a Pennsylvania casino last weekend? Concerned about a loved one’s online gambling behavior? If you’re reading this, you already suspect a problem.  But how serious can gambling too much be? Actually, quite serious—and not just in terms of money lost. Here are 4 reasons problem gambling deserves professional treatment:

1. Problem gambling isn’t a money issue—it’s a medical condition.

This is not about being bad with money or having no willpower. It’s a behavioral addiction; the person’s high comes from the thrill of the game and the allure of the next Big Win. The addiction alters the gambler’s decision-making process and makes him or her unable to control the urge to bet.

If you fractured an arm, you’d seek medical care. If a family member became addicted to heroin, you’d try to get him or her into treatment. Likewise, a person with compulsive gambling also deserves treatment from a trained professional.

2. Compulsive gambling is a friends-and-family problem, too.  

A mom becomes so wrapped up in a casino app that she doesn’t notice her toddler has slipped out the front door…an older man sells his wife’s valuable family heirlooms to get slot machine money…a gambler “borrows” a friend’s ATM card and PIN so he has money to bet the ponies.

It’s easy to think “I’d never do that” or “My husband/wife wouldn’t even consider acting that way.” Yet compulsive gambling affects a person’s ability to make reasonable decisions—and often the decisions made in the heat of addiction hurt the physical, emotional, or financial well-being of loved ones.

3. Problem gamblers are at higher risk for suicide.

An estimated 17-24% of problem gamblers have attempted suicide, a rate higher than that of other addictions. A compulsive gambler often suffers in silence, feeling as though there’s nowhere to turn for help, especially after money and other resources run out. What’s more, there are few outward signs of addiction—no slurred words, no stumbling—to suggest to others that there’s a problem. Learn more in Suicide and Problem Gambling- FAQ Guide.

4. Addicted gamblers have higher rates of substance abuse and mental health conditions.

Researchers estimate 25-44% of problem gamblers struggle with an alcohol abuse disorder. Despite the wide range in estimates, it’s clear that many who have disordered gambling also live with alcohol abuse, which carries an additional—and serious—physical and emotional impact. Furthermore, problem gamblers have higher rates of mental health conditions, such as depression or bipolar disorder, both of which have their own set of concerns requiring treatment.

Problem gambling is treatable. Compass Mark guides individuals and families to addiction help resources in Lancaster and Lebanon. Call (717) 299-2831 or fill out the online help form. Our assistance is free and confidential.


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

With New Jersey and other states venturing into licensed online gambling, a growing number of people now have access to legal gaming activities 24 hours a day—no trip to the casino necessary. Some Internet casino sites allow players to impose limits on their play. Do these limits curb gambling behavior?

According to some research, the answer may be yes. A random sample from about 100,000 online gamblers revealed that self-imposed deposit or time limits were linked to reductions in gambling activity while playing lotteries, poker, and other casino games. The research supports at least one earlier study that found players gambled less after setting limits during online games.

For some gamblers, this means that voluntary time or dollar limits may help them avoid making bad decisions when they’re in the zone. Limits can also be useful for gamblers who play while intoxicated. Drinking alcohol inhibits decision making, so self-imposed limitations take away the ability to make potentially harmful wagers.

The challenge, of course, is that online gambling limits are voluntary. Like self-exclusion, in which a person voluntarily bans him- or herself from licensed facilities, self-limitation works only when the gambler commits to it. A gambler struggling with his or her behavior may not be willing or able to use self-imposed limits to reduce the time or money spent on Internet gambling.

Is It Time For Professional Treatment?

Some online gamblers can control their play with self-help strategies. For example, along with time limits and deposit caps, stress reduction techniques may lower the urge to bet because stress often acts as a gambling trigger. If boredom drives a person to frequent online casinos, finding a healthier way to fill time can cut back on urges, too.

Sometimes, though, self-help strategies aren’t enough. Here are signs it’s time to reach out for problem gambling treatment:

  • Are you secretive about how much time or money you spend gambling?
  • Do you bet even when you have no money?
  • Have you tried to stop but have been unable to?
  • Have family members, friends, or co-workers expressed concern?
  • Do you feel the situation is hopeless, or do you feel helpless?
  • Have you considered or attempted suicide because of gambling-related problems?

If you’ve answered yes to any of these, it’s time to seek help. Problem gambling is treatable with a combination of therapy, support groups (like Gamblers Anonymous), and, in some cases, medication.

Professional counselors in our area are trained to treat gambling addiction. See Compass Mark’s Treatment Provider Resources to find outpatient or inpatient treatment in Lancaster, Lebanon, and surrounding counties.

Learn more:

Online Gambling FAQs

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

Free-Play Gambling Spurs Higher Bets in Real Money Games


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.


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.