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Letter to the Editor: Agency urges people to seek help with problem gambling


Letter to the Editor:

New Year, New You

New Year’s Day symbolizes fresh starts and new beginnings. People use January as a benchmark to reprioritize their lives. Wellness is often at the top of people’s priority lists with things like making time for self-care, ending harmful habits, or wasting less and saving money.

With the introduction of Mobile Sports Betting last year, the Western Problem Gambling Resource Center (PGRC) has seen a dramatic impact on people’s lives in a variety of ways linked to emotions, behaviors, and finances. Young people ages 18-24 and their families are being most affected, many of whom have had little experience dealing with other addictions or mental health issues.

Like other types of gambling, Mobile Sports Betting includes negative effects like sleep issues, strain on relationships with loved ones, financial problems and increased alcohol or drug use. People who struggle with gambling are also at a higher risk for other mental health problems. The ease of access and lack of awareness about risks of MSB are fostering the development of problems quickly at a point in time when many of these young adults are learning to navigate life on their own.

The problems associated with gambling are not reserved only for the person engaging in the activity. Other loved ones, particularly parents in this case, are finding themselves worried about their loved ones, trying to help financially, and wondering how to best handle the situation. 

The most important message for the beginning of this new year is that help is available if you or someone you love has been exhibiting warning signs of a gambling problem, such as unusual financial problems; feeling stressed or anxious over sporting events or other gambling activities; low school performance due to absence or preoccupation with gambling; or lying to family and friends about how much money and time is spent on gambling. January is a great time to reach out to the Western PGRC.

The Western PGRC is here to help anyone who is looking to reprioritize their lives and overcome the problems that gambling has caused. Private-practice counselors, behavioral health and treatment facilities, recovery groups and other community services throughout Central New York make up a vast referral network. When people call (716) 833-4274 or email, they confidentially connect with a knowledgeable PGRC staff person who will listen to and connect them with the resources that best meet their needs. Whether you are ready to get help, or you are just curious about your options, call us today. We’re here to help.

Jeffrey Wierzbicki
Western & Finger Lakes Team Leader
Western & Finger Lakes Problem Gambling Resource Center's
NY Council on Problem Gambling

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