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As March Madness begins, so does Problem Gambling Awareness Month

Calls to National Problem Gambling Helpline spike an average of 30 percent this time of year

3/4/2019 10:03:18 AM

An estimated $10 billion in bets will be placed on the NCAA basketball championship games during March Madness, some of it by problem gamblers.  To mark National Problem Gambling Awareness Month, the Minnesota Department of Human Services (DHS) is encouraging Minnesotans to learn about problem gambling and, if needed, to take advantage of the free treatment services paid for through lottery funds.

“Minnesota has excellent resources to help people who are problem gamblers,” said DHS Commissioner Tony Lourey. “There are 30 providers across the state who offer problem gambling treatment services, and Minnesota pays for gambling treatment for people who do not have insurance or another source of payment. Funding comes from lottery funds, and no one is turned away if they can’t afford treatment.”

Individuals in need of help for themselves or a loved one can call the Minnesota gambling helpline at 1-800-333-HOPE or text HOPE to 61222.

Now in its 15th year, National Problem Gambling Awareness Month is designed to help raise awareness of the prevention, treatment and recovery services available for those adversely affected by gambling. Its 2019 theme, “Awareness + Action” encourages bringing this often hidden addiction to light.

About 2 million U.S. adults are estimated to meet criteria for pathological gambling, and another 4 to 6 million people would be considered problem gamblers, according to the National Council on Problem Gambling. Problem gambling can touch women and men of all walks of life. College students are disproportionately affected; nearly 6 percent of college students in the U.S. are estimated to have a serious gambling problem.

Minnesota’s Problem Gambling Program funded treatment services for approximately 775 individuals for outpatient and residential services in fiscal year 2018.

“Left untreated, problem gambling often leads to economic struggles, mental illness, family strife and a host of other problems,” Lourey said. “It’s critical that we connect people to help when they need it.”

Signs of a gambling problem include:

  • Gambling longer than planned.
  • Gambling until the last dollar is gone and beyond.
  •  Thoughts of gambling preoccupy daily life.
  • Gambling impacts relationships and your ability to do your job.
  • Bills begin to go unpaid.
  • Attempts to stop gambling are unsuccessful.
  • Feelings of depression or suicide after losing.
  •  Feelings of remorse after gambling.
  • Gambling to meet financial obligations.
  • Borrowing or even stealing to fund gambling.
Additional resources include:
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