When does gambling turn from harmless entertainment to problem?
When describing gambling, what’s the first thing people think of? Many people consider it a form of entertainment and a social activity among friends and family. Gambling means to stake or risk money on anything of value on the outcome of something involving chance. There are many types of gambling that exist today including the lottery, casinos, bingo, 50/50 raffles, horse racing, online betting, etc. But what happens when it takes over your life and, instead of having a good time, you’re constantly thinking about gaining back your losses and paying your debts? This is when gambling turns into problem gambling.
Problem gambling is anytime gambling causes an issue in someone’s life. Many people don’t realize that gambling can become an issue and is therefore kept hidden. Compared to other addictions, problem gambling doesn’t outwardly show any physical signs, such as bloodshot eyes and trembling. It can also affect anyone including men, women, and youth.
Imagine you and your friends going out on a Friday night. The group chooses to head to the local casino to test their luck at the slot machines. Your sister Susan tags along, feeling the probability of a big win is in her favor. Everyone is having a great time, except her. Her pot of money has run out and, feeling the need to win back her losses, she borrows money from the group. Again, the money runs out and Susan owes $2,000 to her friends. After multiple unsuccessful attempts, desperation kicks in and the big win feels like a heavy defeat for Susan.
Problem gambling is progressive and can potentially damage relationships with your friends and family. You can probably imagine that Susan’s group of friends aren’t pleased with her. However, Susan isn’t alone. According to the New York State Office of Alcohol and Substance Abuse, 5 percent of adults over 18 have a gambling problem. Fortunately, help is available. The Finger Lakes Problem Gambling Resource Center is a program of the NY Council of Problem Gambling that works to raise awareness of problem gambling in the Finger Lakes region, and connect individuals and families affected by problem gambling to the help they need. The Finger Lakes PGRC serves the counties of Monroe, Ontario, Livingston, Wayne, Seneca, Yates, Schuyler, Steuben, Chemung, Tompkins, Tioga, and Broome.
If you have any questions or would like help, please call 585-351-2262 or email us at FingerLakesPGRC@NYProblemGambling.org