Life Events May Spark Problem Gambling Behavior [Research]

Life events, like retirement and job loss, may increase problem gambling behavior, according to a recent gambling study.

The researchers conducted three phone interviews, each one year apart, with 250 Canadian adults. During the calls, researchers asked participants about life events that had occurred in the previous 12 months.

The results suggest that these factors increase Problem Gambling Severity Index  (PGSI) scores. Retirement was the strongest predictor of a rise in problematic gambling behavior. This was followed by job loss and having difficulties with a boss.

It’s worth noting that none of the life events predicted a decrease in PGSI scores.

How might these findings help professionals prevent & treat gambling addiction?

As noted in the review of this study by Worldwide Addiction Gambling Education Report (WAGER), the results suggest that counselors, healthcare professionals, and others can be on the alert for changes in patients experiencing life events.

The research also suggests that the trigger event doesn’t necessarily need to appear negative or significant. For example, many people view retirement, the primary trigger in this study, as a positive life transition. Consider also that having trouble with a boss may not, on the surface, seem like a problem so significant that it can increase addictive behavior.

March is Problem Gambling Awareness Month.

Problem gambling is a serious condition that often flies under the radar. Unlike the abuse of alcohol and other drugs, it rarely manifests itself in apparent physical symptoms.

If you’re a counselor, educator, or health professional, Problem Gambling Awareness Month is the perfect time to learn more about this diagnosable–and treatable–condition so you can better help the people you serve. Check out these resources:

Problem Gambling Awareness Month 2017-Stats and Facts

Some Gamblers Self-Medicate with Mobile/Computer Casino Games [Research]

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

Men Who Gamble More Prone to Violent Behavior [Research]

Problem Gambling Resources for Health Care Professionals

If you’d like additional information on gambling addiction prevention and treatment resources in Lancaster County, PA and Lebanon County, PA, contact Compass Mark at 717-299-2831.

Gambling Prevention Tactic Spurs Gambling in Women [Research]

Pop-up gambling warning messages on simulated poker machines triggered increased betting in women, revealed an Australian study.

Volunteers gambled on simulated poker machines, and received pop-up play-related messages that were positive, negative, or challenging, according to an Australian Broadcasting News article. For example, a player might see: “Gambling at lower speeds leads to greater enjoyment. Did you know your play speed has increased? You’re playing at similar speeds to most problem gamblers.”

Although older volunteers and male volunteers were more likely to slow the rate of their spins after the messages, women tended to increase the rate of wagering or bet more persistently. As a result, those female gamblers experienced greater losses.

Implications for Problem Gambling Prevention

Gambling addiction prevention and treatment continues to evolve. While this study was relatively small, with about 200 participants, it suggests that this type of problem gambling prevention may trigger unhealthy behaviors–rather than curb them–in some populations. The researchers noted that future studies might focus on variables like the messages’ content and how the messages are delivered.

Problem Gambling Prevention & Education in PA

Compass Mark offers the We Know BETter gambling prevention program for kids in grades 4-9. For more information, contact Jean Gerdes at or 717-299-2831. Our team can also direct you to Lancaster, PA and Lebanon, PA resources and guidance for gambling education and prevention for high school and college students.

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.


Don’t Give Your Child the Gift of Problem Gambling: Avoid These Gift Ideas

With the number of shopping days ticking down, you may be wrapping up your holiday gift shopping over the next week or so. If you still have items to cross off your gift-giving list, you may want to check out this list of gifts with the potential to raise your child’s risk of developing problem gambling.

  • Scratch-off lottery tickets: Please don’t stuff kids’ stockings with lottery tickets! They might seem like harmless games, but research from Yale suggests high school students who had received them as gifts during childhood were more likely to struggle with problem gambling behaviors as teenagers. What’s more, additional research suggests that the earlier a child starts gambling, the higher his or her risk for developing a severe gambling addiction later in life.
  • Gambling-related toys: Avoid buying play slot machines, handheld electronic casino games, card-playing stuffed dogs (yes, an actual product), and slots-shaped piggy banks when you’re shopping for kids’ gifts this year. As with lottery tickets, gambling toys can seem harmless. However, they normalize a behavior that can become problematic later in life.
  • Gambling apps: Once again smartphones and tablets are high on wish lists for children and teens. If tech is on your holiday shopping agenda this year, avoid loading the device with apps that encourage gambling, even those apps that offer free-play games. (Researchers have found that free-play mode encourages players to bet higher amounts when wagering with real money later.) Use parental controls and monitoring software/services to ensure your child or teen isn’t downloading these apps on their own. Giving tech to a college student? Start a conversation with him or her about the dangers of unhealthy gambling behavior—just as you’d speak to them about drinking alcohol or unprotected sex. (Learn 4 Tips for Talking with Your College Kid About Problem Gambling.)
Compulsive Gambling Prevention, Treatment in Lancaster, PA & Lebanon, PA

If you have questions about preventing gambling addiction in children and college students or if you need addiction referrals in the Lancaster-Lebanon area, contact Compass Mark. Our team is here to help parents, caregivers, educators, and health care professionals find treatment and prevention resources. Call 717-299-2831 or get in touch using this online help form.



Gambling Addiction- The Red Flags You Need to Know

Do worries about gambling debt dog your sleep at night? Have you argued with a spouse about his/her wagering behavior? Are you stressed about an aging parent who’s suddenly playing gambling-type apps, seemingly all the time?

While many people can gamble safely, it turns into an addiction for up to 5 million Americans, according to the National Council on Problem Gambling. Here are just some of the warning signs that you or a loved one may be at risk for developing gambling addiction:

  • Trouble controlling the frequency or dollar amount of bets;
  • Continuing to gamble after the money’s gone;
  • Dipping into dedicated savings, like college funds or retirement accounts, to play;
  • Borrowing money to pay everyday bills, like rent or utilities;
  • Lying or being evasive about gambling;
  • Gambling to relieve stress, anxiety, loneliness, or boredom;
  • Arguing with loved ones about gambling and/or its impact on the family;
  • Spending increasing amounts of time playing gambling-type apps.

For more information about individual risk, take the simple quiz on the SafeStakes home page.

Gambling Addiction: Preventable & Treatable

Compass Mark will direct you to compulsive gambling help and treatment resources in Lancaster, PA or Lebanon, PA. Contact our team at 717-299-2831, or fill out this simple Problem Gambling Help Form. Our guidance is free and confidential.


Is Your College Kid at Risk for Problem Gambling? How to Start a Conversation

The aisles are stocked with notebooks and backpacks. The ads are splashed with colorful comforters and shower caddies. Many Lancaster and Lebanon parents are getting their college kids ready for the back-to-campus rush, making this the perfect time to talk with teens and young adults about problem gambling.

College students are at higher risk for gambling problems than other groups. Before you send your child back to campus this year, give him or her the information they need to make healthier decisions about betting.

Check out this gambling infographic from the National Center for Responsible Gaming (NCRG). It includes gambling facts and tidbits you can use to jumpstart conversations with your college kid:

  • Up to 6% of college students have gambling problems. (Ask your teen or young adult to think of it this way: the next time you’re in a place with 100 of your fellow students, look around and consider that 6 of them likely struggle to control their gambling behavior.)
  • Gambling activity doesn’t need to happen in a casino. Gambling includes betting on college or pro sports teams, participating in raffles, playing fantasy leagues, and more.

For a downloadable PDF version of this gambling infographic, click on the image.


Compass Mark offers problem gambling education, prevention, and treatment resources to students and families as well as higher ed and health care professionals.  Call our Lancaster, PA office at 717-299-2831.


Problem Gambling in America- Statistics [Infographic]

Did you know that 20% of problem gamblers attempt or commit suicide?

Or that 75% of compulsive gamblers have abused alcohol?


As part of Problem Gambling Awareness Month, the National Council on Problem Gambling shared an infographic with statistics about problem gambling and its impact:

Problem Gambling in America- Statistics [Infographic]

PA Problem Gambling Help Resources

Compass Mark guides Lancaster- and Lebanon-area individuals, families, businesses, and health care professionals to Pennsylvania resources for addiction prevention, education, and treatment. Call 717-299-2831 or fill out the easy online help form.

To learn more, visit:


Gambling Addiction Linked to Shopping Addiction in Teens [Research]

Problem gambling and problem shopping share certain behavioral factors, according to a study recently published in Journal of Gambling Studies. These findings may help researchers and mental health professionals develop more effective treatment options for both conditions.

The researchers surveyed more than 2,000 Connecticut high school students about shopping and gambling behaviors. They found:

  • Teens at risk for problem gambling were more likely to report anxiety or tension that was only relieved by shopping.
  • Teens at risk for problem shopping were more likely to report concern over a family member’s gambling behavior.

Lead study author Sarah Yip said in an interview with Yale Daily News:

The more we know, the better…At the moment there are more well-validated treatments that exist for things like gambling than things like shopping. Understanding shared features helps us understand how to improve treatments.”

Is a Teen You Know at Risk for Problem Gambling?

When parents and educators talk with kids about unhealthy behaviors, the focus is typically put on the use of alcohol and other drugs. However, problem gambling deserves to be part of the ongoing conversation between adults and teenagers.

While gambling addiction can develop in anyone, regardless of age, certain risk factors can increase the chance of developing it:

  • Having a family history of addiction
  • Using alcohol or other drugs
  • Struggling with other conditions, like depression or anxiety
  • Having an impulsive personality
  • Living in an environment with easy access to gambling

To learn if someone you know is at risk, take the quiz on the SafeStakes home page.

Resources for Parents, Educators, & Counselors

When you need compulsive gambling prevention or treatment resources in Lancaster or Lebanon, contact Compass Mark at (717) 299-2831. We offer confidential assistance to parents, educators, and counselors. Let us help you guide the kids in your care toward the healthier choices that offer possibility and promise.


Problem Gambling—4 Facts for Lancaster, Lebanon Businesses

How much money can your business afford to lose to an employee’s gambling addiction?

$30 million?

That’s how much an Atlanta, GA real estate law firm lost after alleged embezzlement by one of its former managing partners. The accused man reportedly took money from several of the firm’s accounts as well as from those belonging to a related title company, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.  He allegedly wired $4 million to casinos. An attorney for the accused man has called the allegations “false.”

We don’t know if the accused man struggled with compulsive gambling or what the outcome of this situation will be, but it’s a good reminder for Lancaster and Lebanon businesses that employees with gambling addiction can create significant problems for a company. Consider these problem gambling facts:

1. Gambling in the workplace is a serious productivity drain—the March Madness tournament alone is estimated to cost businesses up to $1 billion in productivity each year.

2. Gambling was a motivating factor in 33% of major U.S. embezzlement cases in 2012. Compulsive gamblers cannot control the urge to bet, much like someone addicted to drugs can’t control the urge to use. The result? A person addicted to gambling may turn to fraud or theft to find the money to gamble or cover personal bills.

3. Gambling-related fraud doesn’t need to run into six or more figures to harm a business. Ask yourself: How much can my company afford to lose? $1,000? $10,000? $50,000? The fact is that any loss is too much.

4. You can take action to prevent gambling-related fraud. Learn more by visiting these resources:

Need more information? Contact Compass Mark at (717) 299-2831. Our team provides education, prevention, and confidential treatment guidance to employers in Lancaster County and Lebanon County.


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.