Gambling can be costly for society

March is Problem Gambling Awareness Month. Empirical studies report the costs on society of one pathological gambler are about $9,000 per year as noted in “The Hidden Social Costs of Gambling” by Earl L. Grinols of Baylor University.

To those who play gambling games, please do it responsibly by following these suggestions:

Think of the money you lose as the cost of your entertainment. Consider any money you win a bonus.

Set a dollar limit and stick to it.

Set a time limit and stick to it. Leave when you reach your limit, whether you’re winning or losing.

Understand that you’ll probably lose, and accept the loss as part of the game.

Don’t borrow money to gamble.

Don’t let gambling interfere with or become a substitute for family, friends or work. It is not a way to earn money.

Don’t chase losses. Chances are you’ll lose even more trying to recoup your losses.

Don’t use gambling as a way to cope with your problems.

Watch for warning signs of a gambling problem or addiction:

Increased time spent engaged in gambling activities.

Decrease in previously enjoyed activities.

Primary interest is in gambling related activities.

Increase in anxiety and depression.

Problems at home or with friends.

Financial difficulties despite regular income.

Selling possessions to finance gambling activities.

Exaggerated display of money or other material possessions.

Daily or weekly card game.

Bragging about winning at gambling.

Intense interest in gambling conversations.

Unaccountable explanation for new items of value in possession.

If playing the game isn’t fun anymore and help is needed, call the National Problem Gambling HelpLine at (800) 522-4700. The line is available 24/7 and is free and confidential.

More information can be found at: www.knowtheodds.org and www.hfmpreventioncouncil.com.

DOREAN PAGE, credentialed prevention professional HFM Prevention Council