The New York State Office of Addiction Services and Supports (OASAS) defines gambling 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. For many people, gambling is done as a fun activity and has few negative effects. They may lose small amounts of money, but it does not cause them further harm. But for other people, gambling can have devastating consequences. For some, gambling can lead to financial problems, broken relationships, losses of property, careers and reputations, and much more.
This is know is Gambling Addiction, or Problem Gambling.
Problem Gambling includes gambling behavior that disrupt or damage personal and family relationships or work at your job. In extreme cases, problem gambling can result in financial ruin, legal problems, loss of career and family, or even suicide.
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 you can’t see it, people who have 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 access to money and/or negative actions occur.
However, there are some warning signs that gabling might be a problem. These include:
- Thinking often about gambling
- Covering up/lying about gambling behaviors
- Missing time with friends and loved ones to gamble
- Strained or lost significant relationship, job, or educational opportunity because of gambling
- Gambling to escape problems or negative feelings
- Gambling more money than planned or can afford
- Relies on other to provide money to relieve a desperate financial situation caused by gambling
- Needs to gamble with more and more money in order to feel the same amount of excitement
- Trying unsuccessfully to cut back or stop gambling
There are strategies for helping to prevent problem gambling patterns, and reduce potential bad consequences.
Adult Gambling Prevention
Most adults can gamble responsibly. Having a plan before you gamble can help reduce the potential consequences. Consider some of these strategies:
- Set the amount of money and time you will spend gambling before you go
- Maintain a balance in your recreational activities. Include other activities for fun and entertainment, besides gambling.
- Take frequent breaks when gambling
- Limit or exclude drinking alcohol while you are gambling
Youth Gambling 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
The New York State Office of Addiction Services and Supports (OASAS) has a series of free, downloadable educational materials that you can use to talk about gambling. These resources include information about problem gambling in specific groups like youth, adolescents, college students, older persons/ seniors, and the whole family, and how to get help! These resources are available in English and Spanish.
Providing screening for problem gambling can sometimes be the first step towards a recovery journey. It is important that treatment providers, mental health practitioners, human service workers, faith leaders, medical providers and anyone who works with people are all screening for problem gambling. Screening can help reveal if someone is struggling with their own gambling or if someone is being affected by a loved one’s gambling. Sometimes, self-screening tools can help people decide if they are ready to reach out for support for problems related to someone’s gambling. The New York problem Gambling Resource Center provides a free, anonymous, screening tool (in English and Spanish) that you can use today: https://nyproblemgamblinghelp.org/e-screener/
If you need help for gambling addiction or problem gambling, you are not alone. There are national, state, and local resources that can help. Use the resources below to learn more about problem gambling and where to get help.
- New York State Problem Gambling Resource Centers (PGRs): Funded by the New York State Office of Addiction Services and Supports, the New York State Problem Gambling Resource Centers (PGRCs) are programs of the New York Council on Problem Gambling. The goal of the PGRCs is to address problem gambling across New York State by increasing public awareness about problem gambling, and connecting those adversely affected by gambling with services that can help them.
- The New York State Office of Addiction Services and Supports (OASAS) – Problem Gambing: OASAS provides information and free educational resources about problem gambling, and links to treatment services. OASAS operates the New York State problem gambling and chemical dependency HOPEline, to provide high quality, responsive information and referral services to all callers throughout New York State experiencing substance use and problem gambling. HOPEline Services are Free and Confidential.
- New York Council on Problem Gambling (NYCPG): The New York Council on Problem Gambling is a not-for-profit independent corporation dedicated to increasing public awareness about problem and disordered gambling and advocating for support services and treatment for persons adversely affected by problem gambling. NYCPG maintains a neutral stance on gambling and is governed by a Board of Directors.