For nineteen years, the month of March has been designated by the National Council on Problem Gambling (NCPG) as Problem Gambling Awareness Month. March Madness, the annual NCAA basketball tournament that sees over $8 billion wagered on its games, is the backdrop that NCPG and its partners across the country leverage to help raise awareness and create action for those suffering from gambling problems.
According to Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) data from 2019, 315,000 adult Iowans experienced at least one problem related to their gambling in the year prior.
“Iowans who have problems with their gambling come from many backgrounds. Problem gambling can affect people of every race, every religion, and all socioeconomic backgrounds,” said Eric Preuss, Manager of the Iowa Problem Gambling Services program. “The one constant is that problem gambling is treatable and recovery is possible. The impacts of problem gambling can be addressed, helping individuals and families get their lives back on track.”
Symptoms of problem gambling include:
- Thinking a lot about gambling, such as past gambling experiences, future gambling ventures, or ways of getting money for gambling
- Needing to gamble with larger amounts of money or with larger bets in order to get the same feeling of excitement
- Repeatedly trying to cut down or stop gambling without success
- Feeling restless or irritable when trying to cut down or stop gambling Gambling to run away from problems or to get relief from feeling depressed, anxious, or bad about yourself
- After losing money gambling, often returning another day in order to win back losses
- Lying to family members, friends or others in order to hide gambling activities from them
- Losing or almost losing a significant relationship, job, or an educational or career opportunity because of gambling
- Relying on others to provide money to relieve a desperate financial situation caused by gambling
The Iowa Problem Gambling Services program works to reduce the harm caused by problem gambling by funding a range of services for Iowans. Services include outpatient counseling for those experiencing gambling problems, and their family and other concerned persons; recovery support services; and, financial counseling, including budgeting and debt reduction plans.
If you or a loved one are facing a problem with gambling, you’re not alone. Call 1-800-BETS OFF, text (855) 895-8398 or visit https://yourlifeiowa.org/