The pull of just one more gambleYou walk into a casino and are immediately immersed in a new atmosphere. Blinking lights emphasize potential winnings and your eyes become mesmerized watching cherries and 7s as they scroll across dozens of screens.
By: Regan Carstensen, The Republican Eagle
You walk into a casino and are immediately immersed in a new atmosphere. Blinking lights emphasize potential winnings and your eyes become mesmerized watching cherries and 7s as they scroll across dozens of screens.
In one ear you hear the sound of coins pouring from a slot machine, while in the other you pick up on the fast shuffling of a fresh deck of cards.
Your heart beats fast as you choose where you want to press your luck. The anticipation of hitting a possible jackpot is so thrilling that the risk of a loss doesn’t instill the slightest bit of fear.
The sounds, sights and feelings associated with casinos and gambling have the ability to get some people hooked. But since gambling is such an expensive hobby, developing an addiction to it can become a serious issue.
To shed some light to the matter, the Northstar Problem Gambling Alliance and the Minnesota State Lottery are recognizing this week as 2012 Problem Gambling Awareness Week.
“No player is immune. It is truly a problem that can affect anyone,” said Cathie Perrault, executive director of the NPGA.
According to the NPGA, an estimated 200,000 Minnesotans struggle with gambling addictions. Some of them are turning to different methods for help, including peers with the same problems. As a result, nearly 70 Gamblers Anonymous meetings were active throughout the state at the beginning of last year.
While there are many symptoms of problem gambling, one of the easiest to determine is whether gambling is having an influence on someone’s finances, relationships or overall mood. As part of Problem Gambling Awareness Week, the NPGA is hoping to spread awareness about the topic to encourage gamblers to seek help early before an addiction gets out of hand.
Even casinos — where a majority of gambling takes place — encourage people to be responsible.
“We make information available in several different ways for our guests or their family members if they feel that they have, perhaps, an issue with gambling,” Treasure Island Resort & Casino spokeswoman Cindy Taube said.
For starters, a page on the local casino’s website is dedicated to responsible gaming. It offers eight separate resources for people who may have a gambling addiction and addresses some warning signs of problem gaming.
Treasure Island also has information regarding symptoms of a gambling addict, phone numbers for support hotlines and additional resources located in its bathrooms, with casino executives, at guest services and in the hotel lobby.
“So that if guests ask for this information, we have it readily available,” Taube said.
Do you have a gambling problem?
A survey conducted by the Minnesota Department of Human Services found that one in three people knows someone with a gambling problem. If you experience any of the following signs, you may have a problem:
• Gambling to escape worry
• Gambling to get money to solve financial difficulties
• Feeling unable to stop playing, regardless of winning or losing
• Neglecting family because of gambling
• Borrowing to cover gaming losses
• Selling property to get gaming money
• An inability to stop gaming
• Being dishonest to others about gaming
A variety of resources are available to help problem gamblers:
• Support hotline 800-333-4673.
• Gamblers Anonymous, www.gamblersanonymous.org
• Responsible Gambling Council, www.responsiblegambling.org
• Northstar Problem Gambling Alliance, www.northstarproblemgambling.org
• National Council on Problem Gambling, www.ncpgambling.org
• National Center for Responsible Gambling, www.ncrg.org