Thursday, March 6, 2008

Don't Bet on It

By: Natalie Mullet, Deputy Director - Florida Council on Compulsive Gambling

March is a big month in the gaming industry. More money is legally bet on March Madness than any other sporting event in the United States. It is also the month that houses Problem Gambling Awareness Week.

Are you gambling on poker, Internet games, slot machines, sports…or do you skip it all together? Gambling often starts out as fun – a bet among friends. But, some people find it hard to stop gambling even when the fun is over. A recent university study showed that 1 in 4 college student gamblers is at risk for developing a gambling problem.

Gambling is everywhere. A person gambles anytime they risk something of value on an uncertain outcome. Most people can gamble with no problem, but others have serious financial, emotion, physical and sometimes criminal consequences.

There are signs that indicate when your gambling is more than a game.

Social gamblers bet only what they can afford to lose. They set a time limit and financial limit and stick to it. They never borrow money from friends or use credit cards to gamble. Social gamblers have other activities that they participate in and have other hobbies that do not involve a bet. Relationships, family and friends come before gambling.

Problem gamblers often lose money that they don’t have. They will borrow money from friends or max out their credit cards, to bet or pay off losses. A problem gambler will often lose track of time once they begin gambling, and may spend most of their time gambling, thinking about gambling, or talking about it. They often develop problems with school, work, family and friends because of gambling.

People with a problem will often develop significant financial problems, may lie or become defensive when questioned about their gambling. They may start to chase loses in an effort to win back money already lost. This may lead to ‘borrowing’ – stealing money from others, using their student loans or spending money they just don’t have.

Know how to make a choice that won’t jeopardize your future. The truth is that gambling can cause the same problems alcohol or drug abuse can.
If you are concerned that you or someone you know may have a gambling problem, there is someone you can talk to anytime. The Florida Council on Compulsive Gambling operates a 24 hour a day, toll-free and anonymous helpline that can help you or your friends or family member with their gambling problem.

Call: 888-ADMIT-IT (888-236-4848), because the first step to getting help for a gambling problem is admitting there is one. We’re here to help and we don’t play games.

On campus UCF, you can talk with any of your UCF Health Care providers, members of the Wellness program, the REAL Project staff and members of the Counseling Service for help and referral.

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