Although we are in the very early stages of a pandemic that has resulted in casinos closing and made sports betting nonexistent, there is already evidence that many gamblers are turning to online gambling. As online gambling takes place in isolation without others who can observe the gambler’s behavior, it’s that much more important that responsible gambling practices be employed.
We advise that if gamblers are going to play online that they set a money limit and/or time limit for how long they play. If they become overwhelmed, anxious or feel that their recovery may be at risk, they should seek the help of a trained counselor. A list of providers can be found here.
Another resource is Gamblers Anonymous, which has set up a daily evening call beginning at 8 p.m. Participation information can be found here.
In recognition that many gamblers who can no longer gamble in their preferred venues may be moving to online gambling, NPGA is offering individual subscriptions for an online self-exclusion tool called GAMBAN. This tool enables the gambler to block tens of thousands of online gambling sites for all their devices. NPGA has purchased 100 subscriptions, effective for one year and can include up to 15 devices in one household. If you are interested, please email firstname.lastname@example.org and a link will be provided to set up the account. The first year is provided at no cost to any Minnesota resident.
Given the subtle nature of gambling problems, how can you identify someone who is at risk for compulsive gambling? Here are eight warning signs of a gambling problem:
- Increased frequency of gambling activity
- Increased amount of money gambled
- Gambling for longer periods of time than originally planned
- Bragging about wins, but not talking about losses
- Pressuring others for money as financial problems arise
- Lying about how money is spent
- Escaping to other excesses (alcohol, drugs, sleep, etc.)
- Denying there is a problem