Guest Editorial by Jeffrey Wierzbicki
Western Problem Gambling Resource Center Team Leader
This April, 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 9 out of 10 people affected by someone else’s gambling problems felt emotional distress, (Nash et al., 2018).
√ 1 in 5 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 cannot 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.