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December 7, 2022 - 6:24pm
posted by Press Release in problem gambling, news.

Press release:

The holiday season can lead to gambling problems.

The holidays can be an especially tough time for those struggling with or in recovery from a gambling problem. Stress from extended family time and pressure financially to provide gifts can be overwhelming. These stresses can lead to an individual looking for an escape, or a “quick fix” to help get the presents everyone wants for the holidays. Gambling too often becomes the “go-to” for many people when they need to get away.

The holidays are a wonderful time to give thanks and spend time with family and friends. If you have a loved one who is struggling to control a gambling problem, be kind and understanding if they seem irritable or anxious. Take time to ask your friends or loved ones if they are doing ok this holiday season. Your understanding and communication can help lead to treatment and recovery for someone who might be afraid, or simply not know how to ask.

The Western Problem Gambling Resource Center is “Here to Help.” If you need help, or you know someone who needs help because their holiday season is causing stress and anxiety because of a gambling problem, confidential help is available.

Happy Holidays!

May 6, 2022 - 8:00am
posted by Howard B. Owens in problem gambling, Batavia Downs, news, notify.

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If pulling on slots, handicapping ponies, scratching tickets, or waging on Sunday's big games has become more important to you than your family or job, you're addicted to gambling.

That's an important issue, according to state officials who visited Batavia Downs Thursday to promote problem gambling awareness and a new QR code system to help problem gamblers get help fast.

"Today's event is entitled, 'What is responsible gaming?'" said Gaming Commission Executive Director Robert Williams (speaking in top photo). "The answer to that question is dependent upon where you stand. For the player, it might mean not using gambling as a source of income, gambling only with money you can afford to lose, or setting time and money limits for gambling."

In an interview later, he contrasted betting with what you can't afford to lose with William Bennett, the former secretary of education in the Reagan Administration.

"It came out while he was doing his Book of Virtues tour around the United States, that his purpose of entertainment was to gamble and he was gambling several hundred dollars on a pull on slot machines, Williams said. "He could afford that. If you can't afford it, or the idea of gambling becomes something that affects your business or the way you conduct your life, and you think about gambling, it's preventing you from doing something at work, it's preventing you from doing something at home, then that becomes a problem."

The vast major of people who wager on slots, card games, sporting events, and lotteries are not problem gamblers, but because problem gambling can devastate people and families, and even communities, the state is trying to raise awareness about problem gambling, Williams said.  

He was joined at Batavia Downs by three other state officials.

"Problem gambling is sometimes referred to as a silent addiction," said OASAS Commissioner Chinazo Cunningham. "It doesn't have the visible signs that others do. It can cause disruptions in the lives of people who are impacted and impact physical and mental health. Individuals diagnosed with gambling disorders have higher rates over a lifetime of substance use disorders, as well as mental health disorders. And there's a negative impact on family relationships."

There has long been a hotline problem gamblers or their family members could call for help, and a website, but those resources are not always the immediate help some people seek, Williams noted.  The commission came up with the QR code to connect those seeking help more quickly with problem gambling resources.

"We currently have 31 OASAS-certified outpatient programs specializing in problem gambling," Cunningham said.  "We also have 12 state-operated inpatient programs where people in need of inpatient care for gambling disorders can be treated. Treatment is also available through a network of private practitioners connected to each other."

The QR code will be displayed wherever legal gambling is available in the state and at public events such as county fairs.  It will also be printed on scratch-off tickets.

"It's my understanding that the New York Lottery will be the first in the world to employ such a feature on scratch-off tickets," Williams said.

Batavia Downs takes the issue of problem gambling seriously said Henry Wojtaszek, president and CEO.  Employees are trained to watch for the signs of problem gambling, such as excessive use of credit cards to fund bets and to listen to customers for statements that might indicate somebody is struggling with responsible play.

"We know our players by name and we interact with them in a way that says we would like you to have fun and find it entertaining here, but we have to pay attention to the major signs that happen,"  Wojtaszek. "To our staff's credit, they do that and they often bring up information to me when we try to interact with our guests and customers and try to help them in that regard. We're trained to see indicators from patrons that may have a problem. The staff takes their concerns to our managers on duty to see if we need to look further into the situation and explain the actual options we have for them."

Council Executive Director Jim Maney noted that the number of people -- media and Batavia Downs staff -- who turned out for Thursday's event was the largest they had seen at any gaming facility in the state for similar events.

"That is so important to raise the awareness of problem gambling in the state of New York," Maney said.  "And why is it so important? Because we talk about wanting to advocate and care about our fellow people, they know when we care about them. And when you say -- you didn't say these exact words -- 'I'm a mom and pop organization,' what it really says is you guys do know your customers. You know each and every one of them by name. And when they know that you care about them, guess what? They care about themselves a little bit more, especially when we talk about addictions."

Photos by Howard Owens

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Henry Wojtaszek

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Jim Maney

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Western PGRC Program Manager Angela DiRosa said, “Ensuring that all New Yorkers are aware of the potential risks related to gambling, as well as how and where to get help if gambling becomes a problem, is more important than ever. Leveraging technology like the QR Code is another way to remove barriers to problem gambling screening, intervention, and treatment, and reduces the stigma associated with seeking those services.”

June 10, 2021 - 10:58am
posted by Press Release in LGBTQIA+ community, PRIDE Month, problem gambling, news.

Press release:

Happy Pride Month! June is established to recognize the impact that gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and queer individuals have had on the world. LGBTQIA+ groups celebrate this special time with pride parades, picnics, parties, memorials for those lost to hate crimes and HIV/AIDS, and other group gatherings.

It’s also important to recognize that the LGBTQIA+ community has been impacted by various mental health issues, including problem gambling. Problem gambling is anytime someone’s life is negatively impacted by their gambling habits. This could be financial struggles, relationship or partner issues, conflicts with work and school, and even translating to criminal behavior.

Unfortunately, there is limited research on the prevalence of gambling addiction among the LGBTQIA+ community. However, the information that is available does suggest that there is a correlation between problem gambling and those who identify as gay, bisexual, and transgender.

A 2006 U.S. study reports that 21 percent of 105 men seeking treatment for problem gambling identified as gay or bisexual. That percentage is seven times higher than the (reported) rate of gay and bisexual men in the general population (21 percent as opposed to 3 percent), raising the possibility that gay/bi men might be at increased risk for problem gambling (Grant, JE, and Potenza, MN, 2006).

Additionally, a 2015 Australian study reports that 20.2 percent of 69 LGBT participants met DSM V criteria for gambling disorder. Pub/slot games (58 percent) and scratch-offs (43 percent) were most common about LGBTI populations. The amount spent ranged from $1 - $3K per month. Reasons were “because it is fun” and “because I like the feeling.”

The most important takeaway from these limited studies is that it’s important to have a comprehensive screening system in place for all individuals receiving treatment for problem gambling, especially screening specifically for LGBTQIA+ folks who are already in care or seeking treatment for mental health or chemical dependency needs.

First and foremost, establishing a safe environment for clients should be a normalized step within all counseling and therapy-related practices. Secondly, help is available for problem gambling no matter how you identify.

The Western Problem Gambling Resource Center (PGRC) is excited to promote our clinicians who are experienced in treating LGBTQIA+ individuals, as well as have training in cultural humility. Below are some barrier-free options the Western PGRC offers our community:

  1. In person or teletherapy counseling (individual or couples therapy)
  2. Connection to Gambler’s Anonymous or Gam-Anon
  3. Online family support group
  4. Guidance through the NYS Casino Self-Exclusion Program
  5. Online tools and resources, including self-assessment screening
  6. Connection to statewide inpatient and outpatient treatment services

To get started, call the Western PGRC at (716) 833-4274 or email [email protected]

For more information, visit https://nyproblemgamblinghelp.org/.

April 13, 2021 - 4:37pm
posted by Press Release in problem gambling, mobile sports betting.

Press release:

This month, New York passed the legalization of mobile sports betting. Although leaders believe this will have a positive economic impact for New York State, potentially closing the budget deficit over time, increasing the availability and accessibility of gambling options may cause problems for those at risk.

The Western Problem Gambling Resource Center maintains a neutral stance on gambling; however, we want the community to know there is a local, confidential resource available if you or someone you know is struggling to control their gambling.

Problem gambling is simply anytime someone’s gambling causes problems in their life. These could be financial or relationship problems, issues at work or school, some people have even resorted to criminal activity to support their gambling problem.

Let’s look at a few problem gambling facts:

  • Each person struggling with problem gambling affects 6-10 of those closest to them.
  • A study found that nine out of 10 people affected by someone else’s gambling problems felt emotional distress, (Nash et al, 2018).
  • One in five persons struggling with a gambling problem have attempted and/or died by suicide. 

Because as many as 10 other individuals are impacted by one person’s gambling problem, a person’s mental and physical health could certainly be impacted.

It is important to recognize the warning signs of problem gambling. We can not simply pick a person struggling with gambling problems out of a crowd. So, what are some warning signs can we look for?

  • Being absent from friend/family events because of gambling.
  • Feeling stressed or anxious when not gambling.
  • Low work performance due to absence or preoccupation with betting.
  • Lying to family and friends about how much money and time is spent on gambling.
  • Chasing losses to “get even."

Services for those persons struggling with problem gambling are available in WNY. Friends and family of those impacted by problem gambling are also encouraged to reach out for support. Local, confidential, and free help is available through the Western Problem Gambling Resource Center.

For more information: Call (716) 833-4274 or email:   [email protected] visit www.nyproblemgamblingHELP.org/Western

Western PGRC is “Here to Help."

March 9, 2021 - 12:02pm
posted by Press Release in problem gambling, addiction and recovery, news.

Press release:

In honor of Gambling Disorder Screening Day (March 9) and Problem Gambling Awareness Month, the New York Council on Problem Gambling and the Western Problem Gambling Resource Center announce the release of an online self-screening tool for individuals who want to explore their risk for problem gambling.

The tool guides individuals through a set of questions to help them examine their gambling behaviors and the possible consequences of their gambling activity. Individuals who complete the questionnaire receive personalized feedback and resources based on their own answers. 

While it’s true that most individuals who gamble do so solely for entertainment and do not experience problems caused by their gambling, all gambling inherently involves risk. This risk is not only present in the activity of gambling, but also in the risk of causing negative consequences to their lives and the lives of those around them.

For these individuals and families, gambling can have devastating effects to their lives. Effects can range from financial issues all the way to damaged relationships and lost jobs.

Just as there are varying levels of gambling activity and negative consequences, there are also varying levels of motivation and awareness about our gambling activity and the risk involved.

While some people are ready to reach out directly for assistance, support and resources, others may be just starting to think about how their gambling is affecting their life. Others may only be curious about their gambling activity and the possible risk that they have.

In an effort to reach all individuals in New York State, those who are ready for assistance and those who are simply curious about how their gambling may put them at risk for future problems, NYCPG has a variety of resources available. The newest of these resources is the online self-screening tool. The tool is available online here.

For more information about Gambling Disorder Screening Day in NYS, Problem Gambling Awareness Month and tools to use in your community visit here.

For a full list of 2021 NYCPG Screening Day Partners, visit here and click Screening Day Partners.

If you are in need of support related to gambling, please visit here to connect with resources in your community.

The New York Council on Problem Gambling (NYCPG) is a not-for-profit independent corporation dedicated to increasing public awareness about problem and compulsive 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.

March 8, 2021 - 2:06pm
posted by Press Release in problem gambling, Announcements, virtual training event.

Press release:

The Finger Lakes PGRC and The Western PGRC are teaming up to present a Virtual Problem Gambling Training Event! 

  • “Problem Gambling Basics and Emerging Trends”
  • March 17th, 11 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. (via ZOOM)

March is Problem Gambling Awareness Month (PGAM). Increase your knowledge of problem gambling, learn the signs of problem gambling, learn about new options and emerging trends in the gaming industry, and how YOU can help raise awareness of problem gambling in your community!

This is a FREE virtual event open to everyone interested in joining with their local PGRC (Problem Gambling Resource Center) to recognize Problem Gambling Awareness Month.

For more information or to register:

[email protected] (Western PGRC Team Leader) -- (716) 572-5017

[email protected] (Finger Lakes PGRC Team Leader) – (518) 603-5037

*If you or someone you know is struggling to control their gambling help is closer than you might think* www.nyproblemgamblingHELP.org. We are “Here to Help."

March 1, 2021 - 8:00am
posted by Press Release in problem gambling, news.

Press release:

In honor of 2021 Problem Gambling Awareness Month (PGAM), which is the month March, the New York Council on Problem Gambling (NYCPG) is challenging everyone across New York State – individuals, agencies and communities alike – to come together to face problem gambling.

With gambling opportunities expanding at rapid rates in New York State and beyond, it’s imperative that all factions of the community, in all geographic areas of the state, join forces around the issue of problem gambling. We need to collaborate to raise awareness of problem gambling, prevent any additional problems related to gambling, and get those in need to adequate support services in their own community.

According to the National Council on Problem Gambling, 2 million U.S. adults (1 percent) are estimated to meet criteria for severe gambling problems in a given year. Another 4-6 million (2-3 percent) would be considered to have mild or moderate gambling problems; that is, they do not meet the full diagnostic criteria for gambling addiction but meet one of more of the criteria and are experiencing problems due to their gambling behavior.

The effects of problem gambling are not isolated to the individual. It’s been estimated that 8-10 additional people can be negatively affected by one person’s gambling behaviors (Petry 2005). These people include family members, friends, neighbors and even coworkers. If we account for individuals experiencing gambling problems and others who are affected, the estimate of those affected by problem gambling is between 64 and 80 million people.

“The increase and availability of gambling opportunities in NYS coupled with the effects of COVID-19 have made the 2021 Problem Gambling Awareness Month the most important event highlighting problem gambling awareness and resources this year," said NYCPG Executive Director Jim Maney.

"It is imperative that we partner together to raise the awareness of problem gambling and make certain New York residents can access the services and resources that they need during these challenging times.”

PGAM is a time for everyone to join together to show how much we care about individuals, families and communities struggling with gambling problems. That’s why this year, for PGAM, the New York Council on Problem Gambling is expanding its focus to engage all New Yorkers in problem gambling efforts.

The materials and resources developed for PGAM 2021 will help individuals explore their own struggles, support agencies who want to host Gambling Disorder Screening Day events and raise awareness of what’s being done across the state to face the issue of problem gambling.

√  If you are an individual concerned about your, or someone else’s, gambling activity, call your local problem gambling resource center to learn about supports and resources in your community.

√  If you are interested in learning more about problem gambling participate in one of our PGAM webinars.

√  If you’re a community-focused organization, add problem gambling information to your outreach and education materials.

√  If you are a recovery support facility, create gambling-free zones to ensure individuals feel safe from triggers. If you are a mental health or addiction professional, host an event or screen all of your clients on Gambling Disorder Screening Day (March 9).

√  If you are a New Yorker who cares about problem gambling, take the “PGAM Facebook Video Challenge” and tell the world why you care.

√  To access all the tools mentioned above, and to get involved in Problem Gambling Awareness Month 2021, visit: NYProblemGambling.org/PGAM.

Let’s join together to let New York know that we are here to work together to address problem gambling!

If you or someone you love is struggling, please visit: NYProblemGamblingHelp.org to connect with resources in your community.

The New York Council on Problem Gambling (NYCPG) is a not-for-profit independent corporation dedicated to increasing public awareness about problem and compulsive 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.

Your local WNY Problem Gambling Resource Center is: Western PGRC. Contact Jeffrey Wierzbicki [email protected] for local PGAM events and news!

January 4, 2021 - 4:40pm
posted by Press Release in problem gambling, news.

Press release:

The new year symbolizes fresh starts and new beginnings. People use January as a benchmark to reprioritize their lives, and with the unique challenges that last year brought, many of us are looking ahead with even more fervor.

Something that 2020 brought clearly into focus is the importance of mental wellness. A variety of factors can impact mental health, including thoughts, emotions and behaviors. Problems related to gambling can influence each of those components. If gambling, yours or someone else’s, has negatively affected you, know that you are not alone and there is support.

Nearly 668,000 New Yorkers have experienced a gambling problem in the past year. The effects can include sleep issues, strain on relationships with loved ones, financial problems and increased alcohol or drug use. People who struggle with problem gambling are also at a higher risk for other mental health problems. Two out of three individuals reported that their mental health suffered as a result of their gambling. Gambling disorder may also occur with other existing conditions like anxiety, depression, mood disorder or personality disorder.

Emotional and psychological distress is not exclusive to just the person gambling either – each of those individuals can affect up to 10 of the closest people in their lives. A study found that nine out of 10 people impacted by someone else’s gambling problems felt emotional distress. Between the people gambling and their close friends and family, nearly 6.7 million New Yorkers are affected by problem gambling and may experience mental health issues because of it.

Most importantly, help is available if you or someone you love has been exhibiting warning signs of a gambling problem, such as being absent from activities with friends or loved ones because of gambling; feeling stressed or anxious when not gambling; low work 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 Problem Gambling Resource Center (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 Western New York make up a vast referral network.

When people call (716) 833-4274 or email [email protected], 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.

November 18, 2020 - 4:23pm
posted by Press Release in news, problem gambling.

Press release:

The Problem Gambling Resource Center would like the public's input to help them strengthen resources to aid those negatively impacted by problem gambling across Western New York.

Join the community conversation virtually at 10:30 a.m. on Wednesday Dec. 9.

To register for the Zoom meeting click here. After you register, you will receive a link to join the Zoom meeting.

The center is operated by the New York Council on Problem Gambling.

November 10, 2020 - 3:07pm
posted by Press Release in Gambling, news, problem gambling, U.S. military, veterans.

The 11th month, November, on the 11th day is dedicated to commemorating the men and women who have served in the U.S. military.

As a country, we strive to honor and protect these individuals after returning to civilian life. While there are many mental health and addiction resources available throughout the nation, one issue usually remains hidden -- problem gambling.

It's a problem any time gambling causes financial, vocational, mental or interpersonal problems in one’s life, and it's an issue that affects roughly two million Americans. However, Veterans have elevated rates of problem gambling — at least twice the rate as the general adult population (Westermeyer et al., 2013).

Additionally, the National Council on Problem Gambling (NCPG) estimates that as many as 56,000 active duty members of the Armed Forces meet the criteria for gambling disorder.

According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) 5, a diagnosis of gambling disorder requires at least four of the following during the past year:

  1. Need to gamble with increasing amount of money to achieve the desired excitement.
  2. Restless or irritable when trying to cut down or stop gambling.
  3. Repeated unsuccessful efforts to control, cut back on or stop gambling.
  4. Frequent thoughts about gambling (such as reliving past gambling experiences, planning the next gambling venture, thinking of ways to get money to gamble).
  5. Often gambling when feeling distressed.
  6. After losing money gambling, often returning to get even (referred to as “chasing” one’s losses).
  7. Lying to conceal gambling activity.
  8. Jeopardizing or losing a significant relationship, job or educational/career opportunity because of gambling.
  9. Relying on others to help with money problems caused by gambling.

Compared to the national population, problem gambling may not seem like a priority. However, problem gambling can impact up to 55 percent of the population. It is estimated that each individual struggling with problem gambling can impact up to 10 additional people.

On top of that, problem gambling has the highest suicide rate among all addictions.

“About 50 percent of those with disordered gambling have had suicidal thoughts. Over 17 percent of these individuals have attempted suicide,” (Moghaddam et al., 2015).

Problem gambling is also extremely underreported and low screening rates, especially in the military, remain a barrier. Some initial screening tools that are available include the “Lie Bet” and the “Brief Biosocial Gambling Screen,” which provide basic questions on gambling habits.

What can we do to better assist veterans and active duty members who might have a gambling problem?

•       Increase Screenings for Problem Gambling during routine visits and follow up.

•       Complete screenings after deployment and before reenlisting.

•       Offer education and information about gambling related harms. 

•       Provide a safe space to discuss need for support. 

•       Recommend alternatives to gambling on base and at program sites.

If you or a loved one is struggling with problem gambling, contact the Western Problem Gambling Resource Center at (716) 833-4274 or email us directly

October 20, 2020 - 1:53pm

Press release:

Problem gambling may not be a common topic discussed this month -- Domestic Violence Awareness Month; however, the link between domestic violence and problem gambling makes it important to bring awareness to this volatile relationship.

Domestic violence is defined as violent or aggressive behavior within the home, typically involving the violent abuse of a spouse or partner, which may include physical violence; sexual, psychological, social, or financial abuse; harassment; and stalking.

A recent study of help-seeking gamblers found that 49 percent of participants reported being a victim of violence and 43 percent had perpetrated violence (Bellringer et al., 2017).

A person with a gambling problem may experience intense mental and emotional distress which may be expressed through restlessness, irritability or violence. Someone’s gambling problem may also elicit similar distress from a loved one. The person gambling may be the perpetrator or victim of domestic violence. 

Furthermore, there is already evidence that domestic violence increases during professional sporting events due to the emotions experienced from a “home team’s” upset loss, citing issues like consumption of alcohol, increased interactions with family during games, increased expectations for a positive outcome, and increased stress and anxiety.

Our community, the state and the country are seeing increased availability and prevalence of sports gambling, daily fantasy sports, and the like. What happens when those high stakes are further intensified by having large sums of money on the line, potentially for multiple sporting events? 

In many ways, this October is unlike any in the past, but some things remain constant – there are many people who will isolate themselves out of fear or shame and will not reach out for the help they need. Domestic Violence Awareness Month gives us an opportunity to offer hope to those experiencing violence in the home. 

Problem gambling and domestic violence can impact anyone. If you are experiencing domestic violence or problem gambling, confidential services are available:

  • Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-SAFE (7233)
  • Western Problem Gambling Resource Center: (716) 0833-4274

The Western Problem Gambling Resource Center (PGRC) is a program of the New York Council on Problem Gambling dedicated to addressing the issue of problem gambling within New York State. The vision of the PGRC is the positive transformation of lives harmed by problem gambling.

The PGRC focuses efforts on increasing public awareness of problem gambling; connecting clients with treatment, recovery and support services; working with the gaming industry to promote responsible gambling; and promoting healthy lifestyles, which foster freedom from problem gambling.

Visit www.NYProblemGamblingHELP.org to learn more about the PGRC network.  

Jeffrey Wierzbicki – Western PGRC Team Leader

Angela DiRosa – Western Program Manager

September 28, 2020 - 12:10pm
posted by Press Release in problem gambling, Announcements.

Press release: 

New York Council on Problem Gambling is hosting the 2020 Annual Conference VIRTUALLY. This year, we’re bringing the conference to YOU! We’re offering 20 hours of LIVE problem gambling education for only $20.

All sessions will take place on Oct. 8th and 9th.

Just because we can’t meet in person doesn’t mean we can’t see each other and connect. We’re excited to be offering networking sessions and online tools to support attendees and presenters who want to connect virtually.

Join your local Western NY Problem Gambling Resource Center staff, Jeffrey Wierzbicki and Angela DiRosa for 20 hours of virtual problem gambling education and partnership building. Check out all the exciting training and networking opportunities we are offering at this year's conference; attending is easier than ever!

Click here for more details! 

Or email: [email protected] for a registration link.

September 16, 2020 - 1:30pm

By Colleen Jones for Western Problem Gambling Resource Center:

According to the CDC (CDC, 2020) suicide is the 10th-leading cause of death in the United States. This is a concerning statistic and many people struggle with their mental health every day. There are many factors that may lead someone to think that suicide is the only option, but have you ever thought about problem gambling as a source of emotional distress for someone? 

There are many people who struggle with problem gambling in the United States. It is estimated that 2 million adults in the United States meet the criteria for gambling disorder, with another 4-6 million people in the United States struggling with problem gambling (National Council on Problem Gambling, 2020). 

For many people, they can gamble and not have a problem. However, for some, gambling can cause problems in their lives. Problem gambling is anytime gambling causes problems or negative consequences in someone’s life. Gambling disorder is a diagnosis by a qualified, trained professional determined by the criteria set forth in the DSM5. 

According to the DSM5, a diagnosis of gambling disorder requires at least four of the following during the past year: 

  1. Need to gamble with increasing amount of money to achieve the desired excitement.
  2. Restless or irritable when trying to cut down or stop gambling.
  3. Repeated unsuccessful efforts to control, cut back on or stop gambling.
  4. Frequent thoughts about gambling (such as reliving past gambling experiences, planning the next gambling venture, thinking of ways to get money to gamble).
  5. Often gambling when feeling distressed.
  6. After losing money gambling, often returning to get even (referred to as “chasing” one’s losses).
  7. Lying to conceal gambling activity.
  8. Jeopardizing or losing a significant relationship, job or educational/career opportunity because of gambling.
  9. Relying on others to help with money problems caused by gambling.

It is important to remember that while all those with a gambling disorder are experiencing problem gambling, not all those struggling with problem gambling have a diagnosable gambling disorder. Whether someone is struggling with problem gambling or gambling disorder, they are at risk of having the negative consequences from gambling seep out into their everyday lives. These effects may not only impact the person struggling with gambling, but also impact their loved ones. 

People who struggle with problem gambling are also at a higher risk for struggling with other mental health disorders. Two out of three gamblers reported that their mental health suffered as a result of their gambling problems.

In addition to struggling with gambling, they may be struggling with other mental health problems such as a mood disorders like depression, personality disorder, and anxiety. Someone struggling with their gambling may be cashing in retirement funds, college funds, or taking out additional credit cards and loans. These impacts can cause someone to feel hopeless, desperate and alone.

These negative effects can take a toll on one's mental health. Sadly, problem gambling has the highest suicide rate among all addictions. When we look at suicide in the United States, 3.9 percent of the adult population have suicidal ideations and 0.6 percent attempt suicide each year (CDC, 2015). While this statistic is alarming, we find that for problem gamblers, the concern continues to grow.

It has been found that 37 percent of those struggling with problem gambling and 49 percent of those with a pathological Gambling Disorder have suicidal ideations. Statistics also show that 17 percent of problem gamblers and 18 percent of those with a Gambling Disorder attempt suicide. This rate is much higher than the general population, and we believe it’s important to raise awareness of this issue through educating community providers and clients. 

Problem gambling is often referred to as “the hidden addiction” because there are no physical warning signs to “test for” problem gambling. It can be very difficult to spot, so it may be difficult to know if someone is struggling with this and may be having suicidal ideations. While there are no physical signs, there are still signs to look for if you think someone may be struggling with a gambling problem.

Some things to look for are: 

  • being absent from friend/family events because of gambling;
  • feeling stressed or anxious when not gambling;
  • low work performance due to absence or preoccupation with betting; and
  • lying to family and friends about how much money and time is spent on gambling;
  • relying on others to get out of debt, asking for loans or bailouts;
  • using money needed for necessary expenses, such as food, rent, or medication for gambling.

While we cannot physically test for problem gambling, there are screening and diagnostic tools that can be used to initiate a conversation about gambling. A common tool to use is the Brief Biosocial Gambling Screen, or the BBGS. It is a simple three question screen that consists of yes or no answers.

  1. During the past 12 months, have you become restless, irritable or anxious when trying to cut down on gambling? 
  2. During the past 12 months, have you tried to keep your family or friends from knowing how much you gambled? 
  3. During the past 12 months, did you have such financial trouble as a result of your gambling that you had to get help with living expenses from family, friends or welfare?

If you, someone you know, or a client you work with answers yes to any of these questions, it may be time to start talking about problem gambling.

Problem gambling can affect anyone at any point in their lives and can impact friends and families of those struggling with their gambling. It can develop into a gambling disorder, which leads to damaged relationships with loved ones, difficulty at work, and financial problems.

These problems can be detrimental to an individual's mental health. It is important that we start to realize the importance of talking about problem gambling, and what impacts it may have on individuals.

If we take the time to educate ourselves and start the conversation, we can help break the stigma and shame out of problem gambling and get those struggling the help that they need.

If you or someone you know is struggling with problem gambling, they can visit NYProblemGamblingHELP.org/Western or call (716) 833-4274 to find out more and get connected to resources.

July 17, 2020 - 2:00pm
posted by Billie Owens in problem gambling, news, County Mental Health.

From the New York Council on Problem Gambling:

Mental health refers to our cognitive, emotional, and behavioral wellness. How we think and feel can attribute to the behaviors we display. Many individuals struggle with their mental health in a daily basis.

A variety of factors come into play, but did you ever stop and think that problem gambling may be a source of emotional distress for someone?

Nearly 668,000 New Yorkers have experienced a gambling problem in the past year. That is a lot of family, friends, and colleagues having trouble; possibly half of the state population.

Problems from gambling can include sleep issues, strains on relationships with loved ones, financial problems and struggles at work. 

Each person struggling with problem gambling affects up to 10 of the closest people to them. A study found that nine out of 10 people affected by someone else’s gambling problems felt emotional distress.

This means that between the people struggling with problem gambling and the people closest to them, nearly 6.7 million New Yorkers are affected by problem gambling and may struggle with mental health issues because of it.

People who struggle with problem gambling are also at a higher risk for struggling with other mental health disorders.

Two out of three gamblers reported that their mental health suffered as a result of their gambling problems.

In addition to struggling with gambling they may be struggling with mental health problems such as a mood disorder, personality disorder, and anxiety.

On top of that, problem gambling has the highest suicide rate among all addictions. About 50 percent of those struggling with a gambling problem have either thought about or attempted suicide. And one in 5 has attempted and/or died by suicide.

Those are frightening statistics.  

How can we tell if someone is struggling with a gambling addiction? There are several warning signs to look out for including: being absent from friend/family events because of gambling; feeling stressed or anxious when not gambling; low work performance due to absence or preoccupation with betting; and lying to family and friends about how much money and time is spent on gambling.

For more information and help in Western New York, please click here to access the website of the Problem Gambling Resource Center in Williamsville. Or call (716) 833.4274. Email is:   [email protected]

April 3, 2020 - 11:56am
posted by Billie Owens in problem gambling, Announcements.

Press release:

Isolation due to the COVID-19 can be especially difficult for those struggling with gambling problems. Extra time, stress and anxiety, access to gambling on the internet, and an increase in online gambling options are a recipe for trouble.

People struggling with gambling problems, or in recovery from problem gambling, may find this isolation to be especially difficult.

If you have noticed extra stress, anxiety, anger, uncontrollable urges to gamble or an increase in gambling activities there are options for help. If your loved one is struggling to control their gambling, help is available for you, too.

Contact the Western Problem Gambling Resource Center at (716) 833-4274.

March 9, 2020 - 12:22pm
posted by Billie Owens in problem gambling, Announcements.

Press release:

March is Problem Gambling Awareness Month (#PGAM). The Western Problem Gambling Resource Center (nonprofit) has training and awareness opportunities for the WNY region!

Please contact us at [email protected] to schedule our staff to come to your organization, FREE of charge, to increase awareness of problem gambling and find out about ways to help those struggling and their families. Here to help.

Jeffrey Wierzbicki - Western Team Leader 716-572-5017.

For additional resources, visit the New York Council on Problem Gambling here.

December 5, 2019 - 1:51pm
posted by Billie Owens in problem gambling, news.
Press release:
 
The Western Problem Gambling Resource Center (PGRC) is now serving the Western New York area. If you or someone you know is struggling with problem gambling, help is just a phone call away 716-833-4274.
 
The PGRC is a program of The NY Council on Problem Gambling a nonprofit organization dedicated to addressing the issue of problem gambling by:
  • Increasing public awareness of problem gambling;
  • Connecting clients with, treatment, recovery and support services;
  • Working with the gaming industry to promote responsible gambling;
  • Promoting healthy lifestyles which foster freedom from problem gambling.

Visit online at:  www.nyproblemgambling.org

For more information on services, and training opportunities contact WNY team leader Jeffrey Wierzbicki [email protected] 716-572-5017.

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