One of the biggest problems related to gambling and other compulsive and addictive behaviors is that the person with the problem tends to be the last one to see it. You probably looked up this site because you wondered either about your own gambling or the gambling habits of someone you care about. We're glad you had the courage to do so, and we hope the following information will increase your understanding of this problem area.
Risking money or valuables in hopes of winning more than you're risking is gambling. Calling it a "friendly bet," or a "gentlemen's bet," or saying "We're just making the game a little more interesting" does not alter the fact that it is still gambling.
Gambling can include buying instant lottery tickets, playing the on-line or video lottery games, playing cards, dice, or dominoes, playing in casinos, playing slot machines, betting on sporting events (with or without a bookie), betting on the horses or greyhounds, betting on games of skill (bowling, pool, golf, video or arcade games), and many other activities.
Most all of us have sat around and fantasized about what we would do if we won the lottery or hit it big in Las Vegas. But for most of us, these fantasies remain fantasies. Perhaps we buy an occasional lottery ticket, but that's about it. And some people can gamble occasionally without it affecting their lives seriously. But many can't. Time Magazine estimates that there are nearly eight million compulsive gamblers in America, one million of whom are teenagers. An Illinois criminal justice professor found eight times as many gambling addicts among college students as among adults. A study by the Texas Council on Problem and Compulsive Gambling found that teenagers and young adults are at much greater risk for developing serious gambling problems than are adults.
In the central area of Texas, the average gambler was more likely to be a white male, younger, never married, relatively well educated, but with an income on the low side.
More so than gamblers from other regions, the gambler from Central Texas said he liked gambling on games of skill, video lotteries, sporting events, high-risk investments, and card games. He said he gambled out of curiosity or for the challenge, he was more likely to have used alcohol or drugs, and he reports higher number of substance problems. These problem gamblers also had significantly lower academic grades, and they were more likely to skip school.
As we said at the beginning of this site, one of the hardest things about helping people with gambling problems is that they are very likely to deny they have any problem even when it's obvious to people around them. "It's no problem for me. I can quit any time I want. It's not a big deal. I can cover my debts. When I'm hot, I win back even ore than I've lost. My friends all bet on college football-it's just for fun."
If you think a friend has a gambling problem, show your concern. Don't avoid the topic. Do avoid lectures, judging, and verbal attacks, however. Don't continue the conversation if you begin to feel impatient or angry. You may encounter defensiveness and denial. Don't take this personally, but make it clear you're concerned and tell the person how his or her gambling behavior affects you. You may have to set limits with the person. Don't be manipulated into excusing, justifying, overlooking, enabling or participating in the person's self-defeating behaviors.
If the person agrees that he or she has a problem, try to:
According to the Texas Council on Problem and Compulsive Gambling, "problem gambling" is an early stage of the disease, characterized by personal and relationship problems related to gambling. "Compulsive gambling" is the advanced stage and involves behavior that is out of control.
If you are in doubt about where to turn for assistance, please feel free to call the Counseling Center at 661-654-3366.
This information was prepared by The Counseling & Mental Health Center at The University of Texas at Austin to assist students with gambling addiction. Information herein was gleaned from on-line publications found at the following location:http://cmhc.utexas.edu/booklets/gambling/gamb.html