Many people have had the dream of “winning it big” that would allow them to quit work early in life and live the American Dream free and clear. Recently this has been perpetuated more on television with the forty-eighth World Series of Poker that was aired on ESPN. More than seven thousand entrants attempted to win over sixty-seven million dollars in prize money. New York State’s own marketing slogan for its lotto is “Hey, You Never Know,” which can be seen on television multiple times a day. These types of shows and marketing makes gambling seem like a reasonable way to make a living or win life changing money.
Gambling has been part of the human lifestyle from playing cards to Bingo, to horse racing to filling out NCAA March Madness Tournaments brackets. People can participate in these activities to be social, fulfill their competitive spirit, or help raise money for a good cause. These may be harmless participations in gambling activities. It’s when participation in these events takes away from other responsibilities or activities in life that gambling becomes a problem.
Problem gambling is a type of addiction that can affect anyone. Just like drinking alcohol or using drugs, gambling can become an addiction by altering the gambler’s mood and the gambler keeps repeating the behavior, attempting to achieve that same feeling. Gamblers can build a tolerance just like people who drink or use drugs, which causes them to crave the experience and gamble more often and with higher stakes.
Problem gambling includes all behaviors that compromise, disrupt, or damage personal, family or employment pursuits. Essentials of problem gambling include:
- Increasing preoccupation with gambling.
- Needing to bet more money more frequently.
- Restlessness or irritability when trying to stop “chasing” losses.
- Loss of control manifested by continuation of gambling behavior in spite of mounting, serious, negative consequences.
In extreme cases, problem gambling can result in financial ruin, legal problems, loss of career and family, or even suicide. For more information on the signs of a problem gambler, visit www.knowtheodds.org. To get help, call 1-877—8-HOPENY(467369).