How to Keep Your Resolution to Reduce or Stop Gambling

For many Americans, it’s time to make New Year’s resolutions: promises we make to ourselves to change our behavior in a positive way. If your gambling creates problems that keep you awake at night or it sparks conflict in your relationships, it might be time to change that behavior so you can live the life you deserve. Here’s how to keep a resolution to decrease or stop gambling this upcoming year.

Join a gambling self-help group.

Groups like Gamblers Anonymous (GA) can provide the support network you need to stop problem gambling behaviors. GA’s recovery program is based on the 12-step model that seeks to help people recognize their negative behavior and the impact it has on their life and the lives of those around them. The group is open to anyone who wants to stop gambling, and there’s no cost to attend. Find a GA meeting near you.

Seek professional counseling.

A professional therapist can be an ideal partner for reducing gambling in the new year. He or she will talk with you to learn more about your behavior, concerns, lifestyle, and more. Then the counselor will make recommendations for treatment and recovery.

Treatment for problem gambling usually includes a range of therapies that support each other. The foundation is talk therapy, which will help you recognize your behavior and its impact, as well as identify your personal gambling triggers. You’ll learn practical strategies to deal with those triggers in a more positive way so you can avoid relapses. Additional therapies vary, and they may include family/marriage counseling, financial/debt counseling, and, when necessary, substance abuse help or treatment. Find a gambling addiction treatment provider in Lebanon County, Lancaster County, and the surrounding areas.

Commit to lifestyle changes.

Stress is a primary trigger for many problem gamblers. Learning to reduce stress in a healthy way can reduce the craving to gamble and support long-term recovery. You’ll discover many different ways to dial down stress, but some of the more common methods include:

  • Physical exercise;
  • Meditation;
  • Journaling;
  • Hobbies, including crafts, music, art, and more;
  • Volunteer work.

Additional problem gambling resources in PA

Begin your new year by taking positive steps toward reducing or eliminating the gambling behavior that keeps you awake at night or affects your relationships. For more judgment-free guidance, contact Compass Mark at 717-299-2831 or use this simple gambling help form.


$1.5 Billion Jackpot: Fun Fantasy or Invitation to Feed Addiction?

With a jackpot that’s hit $1.5 billion, the Powerball lottery has turned millions into starry-eyed dreamers fantasizing about paying off houses, taking vacations, and saying “see ya” to the workforce. While the lottery can be a fun bit of fantasy for many Americans, for others it’s an irresistible call to satisfy unhealthy gambling behavior.

The lottery is big business.

Who really wins in a lottery? Lottery revenue topped $70 billion in 2014 across the 43 states that sanction this form of gambling. That’s $230 for each man, woman, and child in those states, according to The Atlantic. What’s more, that $70 billion is more than Americans spent nationally combined on sports tickets, books, video games, box office movies, and music.

It’s true that lotteries are often used as a way to fund social programs; in Pennsylvania, those funds go toward helping the state’s seniors. However, there’s a price for that funding–a price paid by those who purchase tickets.

Research suggests the poorest Americans have the highest rates of lottery ticket purchases, with 61% gambling via lottery, compared to 42% of the highest socioeconomic group.

In addition, people in the poorest group bought lottery tickets an average of 26 days each year, compared to 10 times a year for the wealthiest Americans.

And what about the winners? They pay hefty taxes. In PA, winnings over $5,000 are subject to withholding before the check is disbursed, meaning the state immediately benefits from the jackpot. The winner will also be required to pay state and local taxes.

And then there’s gambling addiction…

For many people, the term gambling addiction conjures images of slot machines, poker games, or horse races. However, problem gamblers may also buy lottery tickets in an attempt to satisfy their cravings to bet.

Research also shows that children who receive lottery tickets as gifts are more likely to develop compulsive gambling later in life.

Find help for problem gambling.

Are gambling-related problems keeping you awake at night? Has a loved one developed an obsession with gambling, whether it’s slot machine apps, sports bets, or lottery tickets?

Learn if you or a loved one is at risk for developing compulsive gambling by taking the simple quiz on our home page. For problem gambling resources, including treatment referrals or prevention materials, contact Compass Mark. Our team has worked for 50 years to help individuals and families in Lancaster and Lebanon overcome addiction and find hope.

Call us at 717-299-2831 or use our online addiction help form.

Is Problem Gambling Hurting a Senior You Know? (Gambling News)

A 66-year-old Lancaster County woman was recently sentenced for stealing $123,000 from a local political club so she could help support her compulsive gambling problem.

The Millersville woman, who had been the club’s treasurer, admitted to taking the money, much of which had been earmarked for donation to nonprofits and charities. Although the standard sentencing guideline is 6 years in prison, according to a PennLive report, the judge sentenced her to house arrest and probation. He also ordered the woman to pay back all of the money.

Gambling—Not Always Harmless for Seniors

It’s not unusual for people to think of gambling as a harmless pastime for older Americans–and many seniors can gamble for fun. However, some are vulnerable to developing gambling addiction, a condition that creates powerful urges to wager, regardless of the real-life consequences. In fact, experts say seniors are the fastest-growing group of gambling-addicted people.

Why are seniors more vulnerable to gambling problems?
  • Life Transitions: From retirement to the loss of loved ones, the golden years may not always feel so golden. It can be tough for anyone to cope with the significant changes that come with age. Seniors sometimes turn to gambling as a way to relieve depression, anxiety, and loneliness.
  • Financial Worries: Living within a fixed income can be a challenge, and seniors might be lured by the promise of that Big Win. The problem, of course, is that slots, lotteries, and other gambling activities are games of chance; ultimately, the odds are stacked against players.
  • Dementia & Other Health Problems: Seniors with dementia are at particularly high risk for compulsive gambling because they have less impulse control and a reduced ability to make reasonable judgments about limitations. What’s more, some medications used to treat Parkinson’s disease may actually boost the risk of developing problem gambling.

Visit these resources for more information on how problem gambling affects seniors and how you can help a senior who may be at risk:

5 Reasons to Get Problem Gambling Help for a Senior–Now!

Seniors and Problem Gambling: Need-to-Know Info for Families

Seniors and Gambling Addiction: Warning Signs

Compass Mark helps individuals and families in Lancaster, PA and Lebanon, PA find addiction help resources, including referrals to intervention services. Our trained team will offer confidential, judgment-free guidance. Call 717-299-2831 or use our online Addiction Help Form.


Gambling Addiction Triggers $14 Million Fraud [Gambling News]

A Nebraska pharmacist recently pleaded guilty to defrauding the state’s Medicaid program of $14.4 million, saying he stole the money because of a gambling addiction.

The Lincoln Journal Star reports the 44-year-old man has agreed to pay restitution, which will be paid in part through the sale of his home and other assets. He also faces up to 10 years in federal prison when he is sentenced in 2016. What’s more, it’s likely he’ll be prohibited from working as a pharmacist in the future.

According to an FBI investigation, the man reportedly filed nearly 400 false claims for prescription drugs over a nearly six-year period. Many of the claims were made in the names of his customers’ children.

The defense attorney stated his client’s crimes were fueled by an out-of-control gambling addiction. Investigators discovered the man had wagered more than $11 million at local casinos and had bet as much as $20,000 a hand on blackjack. In addition, investigators learned he’d bet more than $800,000 over a three-month period shortly before he was caught.

You Don’t Need to Lose $20,000 a Hand to Have a Gambling Problem.

Fraud cases like this one garner media attention because of the nearly-unbelievably high numbers involved. Yet many gamblers see their lives (and those of loved ones) destroyed by less sensational dollar figures. For example, the average debt of problem gamblers who called a Wisconsin gambling helpline in 2014 was $47,000.

You don’t need to gamble every day to have a problem either. Some people can go long periods without betting–only to engage in emotionally- and financially-crippling gambling binges that last days.

Gambling is a Problem Any Time it Causes Problems.

It’s never too early or too late to prevent or find help for gambling problems. Whether you’re just starting to worry about your behavior or your life already feels like it’s unraveling, professional treatment offers hope. Therapists specifically trained to work with problem gamblers will assess the behavior and recommend a treatment plan, which may include a combination of individual therapy, lifestyle changes, and attendance at support group meetings (like Gamblers Anonymous).

Learn more in:
6 Red Flags for Gamblers: When Is It Too Much?
14 Financial Warning Signs for Problem Gambling
Addictive by Design? How Gambling Machines Can Hook Players [Infographic]

For free guidance or treatment referrals in Lancaster County or Lebanon County, contact Compass Mark at 717-299-2831 or fill out the simple Gambling Addiction Help Form.


Gambling Addiction Treatment Options in the Lancaster/Lebanon Area

September is National Recovery Month, a time when organizations and individuals come together to promote treatment and recovery awareness for addictions of all types, including compulsive gambling.  If you’re worried about a loved one or about your own gambling behavior, here’s what you need to know about finding help and hope:

Gambling Addiction Is Treatable

Whether you’re just starting to worry about gambling or you already owe thousands of dollars in related debt, you can find the path to recovery. A specialized therapist can recommend a treatment plan that will likely include some combination of talk therapy, family or marital counseling, support groups, financial or debt counseling, and lifestyle changes. In some cases, medication is prescribed to help control the urge to gamble.

Lancaster & Lebanon Gambling Addiction Recovery Resources

Treatment Providers– This page lists inpatient and outpatient centers with therapists trained to work with gambling-addicted people. You’ll find providers in Lancaster, Lebanon, Harrisburg, and the surrounding areas.

Intervention Resources- When family and friends need to help a compulsive gambler understand how destructive the behavior has become, a professional interventionist offers the tools to guide loved ones through the process. Contact Compass Mark to find gambling addiction intervention services in Lancaster or Lebanon.

Gamblers Anonymous (GA)- Based on the Alcoholics Anonymous model of healing, this group is comprised of problem gamblers in the recovery process. Meetings are anonymous and they’re open to anyone who wants to stop gambling. Find local meetings here.

Gam-Anon– This group is specifically for the family and friends of problem gamblers. Meetings provide a safe place to find support from others going through the same experience. The group is open to people regardless of whether their loved one is actively gambling or in recovery. Find a local meeting here.

PA Self-Exclusion List– Self-exclusion allows a gambler to voluntarily ban him- or herself from licensed gaming facilities in PA. When you place yourself on this list, you’re prohibited from betting or collecting winnings. If you do, you can be arrested and charged with trespassing.

Contact Compass Mark for additional problem gambling resources, including education and prevention materials. Call us at 717-299-2831 or get in touch by using our online addiction help form.


Do Gambling Ads Encourage Betting? [Research]

Advertising can be a powerful persuader. Ask anyone with a kid who’s seen a commercial for the latest “in” toy. But can advertisements play a role in gambling behavior? A 2015 study, recently reviewed on WAGER (Worldwide Addiction Gambling Education Report), suggests ads may have the potential to encourage betting in those who already have problem gambling behaviors.

Study participants, all sports bettors in Australia, were divided into groups based on a screening test: non-problem gamblers, low-risk gamblers, moderate-risk gamblers, and problem gamblers. Each person was exposed to a variety of sports gambling-related advertisements and promotions, such as:

  • Stadium signage promoting gambling;
  • Celebrity endorsements of gambling;
  • Gambling commercials;
  • Gambling logos on sports players’ uniforms;
  • On-screen displays of gambling logos and websites.

The researchers then asked participants to rate on a scale (ranging from Strongly Disagree to Strongly Agree) how much each of the ads encouraged him or her to bet on the sports where gambling is promoted.

Problem gamblers reported that 9 out of the 11 promotions they viewed encouraged them to gamble.  What’s more, that group’s agreement scores were on average significantly higher than the other groups. It’s important to note the study didn’t measure actual gambling behavior; rather it examined how the gamblers perceived the ads’ effects.

Compulsive Gambling Research

To learn more statistics about gambling behavior and addiction, check out these research-focused articles:

Risky Behaviors Like Gambling, Sex Are Risky Business for Teens
Depression Rates High Among Problem Gamblers
Problem Gambling Linked to Personality Disorders
Is the Path to Gambling Addiction Faster for Men or Women?
Some Online Gamblers More Likely to Chase Losses Than Others

Compass Mark shares problem gambling education, prevention, and treatment resources with health care professionals, educators, and other concerned individuals in Lancaster and Lebanon. Contact our team at 717-299-2831.


Addictive by Design? How Gambling Machines Can Hook Players [infographic]

Gambling machines, like virtual slots, are designed to get gamblers to spend more money and play for longer periods of time. Check out The Addictive Design of Gambling Machines infographic from Injury Free Nova Scotia, a community-based Canadian group focused on eliminating preventable injuries, including the damage caused by addictions like alcohol and gambling. The infographic was created using info from the Princeton University Press book Addiction by Design: Machine Gambling in Las Vegas by Natasha Dow Schull.


Learn more in Virtual Slots Cause Addiction Concern, Say Researchers.

To find out if you or someone you love is at risk for problem gambling, take the simple quiz on our home page. You can also contact Compass Mark at 717-299-2831 or use our Gambling Addiction Help Form for no-cost guidance or treatment referrals in Lancaster, PA or Lebanon, PA.


5 Healthy Ways to Help a Friend or Loved One with Problem Gambling

You worry. You wonder. You wait. It can be so very hard for a person to watch someone they love struggle to control gambling behavior. Maybe you have noticed your best friend’s distracted by worries about gambling-related debts. Perhaps you’ve found yourself arguing with your spouse about what happened to his or her paycheck.

Excessive gambling is not a matter of your loved one having poor character or no willpower. Rather, compulsive gambling is a real condition that’s classified as an addiction disorder in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM-5) published by the American Psychiatric Association.

Problem gambling is treatable with a combination of professional therapy, lifestyle changes, and, in some cases, medication. Here are 5 healthy ways to support a gambling-addicted loved one during addiction and recovery:
1. Don’t bail him or her out of financial trouble. At first glance, loaning or giving money to a gambler may seem to set him or her up for a “fresh” start. However, gambling addiction isn’t a money problem; it’s a brain condition. Paying off their debts or covering overdue bills simply gives the gambler freedom to continue the behavior without experiencing the serious consequences that may spur them to find addiction help.

2. Restrict the gambler’s access to money. If you live with the compulsive gambler take as much control as possible over household finances. You may need to separate joint finances, including checking accounts and credit card accounts, to ensure your own financial stability. Learn more in Living with a Problem Gambler – Tips for Protecting Your Finances.

3. Don’t take him or her to environments that encourage gambling. Even someone who’s been in recovery for some time can find it hard to resist temptation in specific places. When you’re with a loved one with problem gambling, avoid going to places like casinos, race tracks, off-track-wagering facilities, and events where there may be gambling, like a sports playoff party.

4. Be patient. While a relapse can happen at any point during recovery, it’s particularly common early on. Be patient as your friend or family member works through this difficult time, and continue—as much as you’re able in your unique situation—to show love and offer emotional support.

5. Find help for yourself. You can’t help anyone if you’re not emotionally healthy yourself. If you love a problem gambler, you might feel anger, frustration, sadness, helplessness, or even guilt over what’s happening. Those can be heavy emotions to cope with on your own. Talk with a professional therapist or attend a local meeting for Gam-Anon, a support group for the loved ones of problem gamblers.

If you’re concerned about someone’s gambling behavior, we’ll guide you toward the right help resources. Contact Compass Mark at 717-299-2831 or fill out a Gambling Problem Help Form for confidential assistance in Lancaster, PA or Lebanon, PA.



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: Do Competitive High School Sports Raise Risk? [Research]

Male high school athletes playing competitive sports may be at higher risk for problem gambling, suggests a study recently published in The American Journal on Addictions.

Researchers surveyed Israeli high school students ages 14-19. The results also revealed that males playing competitive sports gambled more frequently than students not involved in those types of sports. Study authors didn’t find a link between problem gambling and female competitive athletes; however, they found that teen girls playing competitively still gambled more frequently than their non-competitive counterparts.

An important distinction that comes out of this particular study is that the gambling connection wasn’t found in teens who participated in cardiovascular activity for the sake of working out alone. Only those playing competitively showed a higher risk for more frequent or unhealthy gambling.

“The drive to win underpins both gambling behavior and competitive sport,” said the study’s lead author Dr. Belle Gavriel-Fried of Tel Aviv University’s (TAU) School of Social Work. It’s believed the soft signs of gambling addiction, such as extreme competitiveness or high energy levels, mirror traits often found in athletes who compete.

As noted in TAU’s news release, much of the previous research related to gambling in student-athletes has focused on the collegiate level. This study suggests problem gambling behavior in this group can begin earlier in adolescence.

Teen Gambling Prevention Tips for Parents
Concerned about a Teen’s Gambling Behavior?

Compass Mark’s team will help you find gambling problem help for teens or other family members. Our guidance is free and non-judgmental. Call 717-299-2831 or fill out the simple Gambling Addiction Help Form.