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Problem Gambling

Gambling addiction can have devastating effects on the individual, family, friends and the community.

Overview

Gambling Addiction or Problem Gambling is known as the “hidden addiction” because there are no visible signs. Unlike alcohol or drug addiction, you can’t visibly see the effects of someone’s gambling. For example, if someone has been drinking, you may smell alcohol, or they may be slurring their speech. Because of the lack of visibility, often those suffering from a gambling addiction can hide it longer than someone with an alcohol or drug problem. Usually, gambling addiction is discovered when there is a loss of accessibility to money and/or negative actions occur.

Definition

Gambling is defined as the act of risking something of value (money, food, clothes, electronics, etc.) on a game of chance (bingo, lottery, dice, slot machine, sports, etc.) for the desired result.

Prevention

Talking to youth about the risks and consequences of engaging in underage gambling activities can make a difference in the choices they make. Parents and caregivers, educators and community members can take steps to prevent youth gambling behaviors. 

  • Encourage youth to be involved in positive social activities such as clubs, sports, and other positive community outlets
  • Be a positive role model
  • Talk early about the potential for gambling to be a problem
  • Avoid giving scratch off tickets as gifts and/or encouraging underage gambling
  • Monitor youth’s activities and friends
  • Establish rules and enforce them

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Responsible Play

Most adults can gamble responsibly. Having a plan before you gamble can help keep gambling fun and help you avoid consequences. Consider some of the following tips:

  • Make a plan before you gamble.
    • Ask a friend to hold you to it.
  • Set a limit on how much time you plan to spend gambling.
    • Be sure to balance gambling with other forms of entertainment.
  • Set a limit on how much money you plan to gamble.
    • Only bet what you can afford to lose, treat whatever you wager as the cost of your entertainment.
  • Take frequent breaks while gambling.
    • Getting lost in gambling activities may result in losing track of your spending.
  • Avoid drinking alcohol while gambling.
    • Decisions made while impaired may later be regrettable.
  • Know how the games work and the odds of winning.
    • Gambling is for entertainment only and should not be used as a way to make money.
  • Avoid chasing losses.
    • Never continue gambling to try and win back lost money.
  • Gamble when you’re feeling positive and looking to have fun.
    • Don’t use gambling to cope with or escape from feelings of stress, loneliness or depression.

Lastly and most importantly, if you notice warning signs of a gambling problem in your life, know that it is okay to ask for help:

To get help for problem gambling, for yourself, or a loved one, please reach out to:


 

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Types of Gambling

There are many types of gambling opportunities in New York State. You must be 18 to gamble, including buying lottery tickets or buying/selling raffle tickets. If a casino sells alcohol, you must be 21 to enter the casino floor.

Some of the most popular types of gambling are:

  • Casinos
  • Lottery/Scratch-off tickets
  • Sports Betting
  • Horse Betting
  • Bingo
  • Raffles/Office Pool

Warning Signs

Most adults who gamble do it for as a recreational, fun activity without any negative consequences. For some, it can become a problem just like alcohol or drugs.

Some warning signs that gambling might be a problem include:

  • Thinking often about gambling
  • Covering up/lying about gambling behaviors
  • Missing time with friends and loved ones to gamble
  • Gambling to escape problems or negative feelings
  • Gambling more money than planned or can afford
  • Trying unsuccessfully to cut back or stop gambling

Get Help

Contact your local Problem Gambling Resource Center to receive support, information and/or be connected with a problem gambling provider in your community.

Call the free, confidential NYS HOPELINE - 1-877-8-HOPENY or text HOPENY (467369) for help, and referrals to treatment.

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