March Madness is a great thing. It’s not gambling addiction. The two could clash this time of year when Americans are expected to bet more than $3 billion.
Concurrent and coinciding with the basketball championships, the Colorado Lottery is stepping up its efforts to combat gambling addiction during Problem Gambling Awareness Month in March. The lottery does this in collaboration with several partners and stakeholders.
National Council on Problem Gambling (NCPG) Problem Gambling Coalition of Colorado (PGCC) Public health organizations Treatment providers Advocacy groups Gambling providers Gambling regulators Colorado ranks 18th for most addicted states
The shared mission of the month is to spread the word about the resources available to Colorado residents with gambling problems. Last year, Colorado was ranked 18th on Wallet Hub’s list of the most addicted states to gamble.
Colorado Lottery Director Tom Seavor said his agency continues to increase its commitment to Problem Gambling Awareness Month.
“The Colorado Lottery has more than doubled its financial commitment to Problem Gambling Awareness Month in recent years, increasing its support to over $200,000 this year. As a gaming organization, we want to do more. To meet our commitments from our Level 4 World Lottery Association certification, we have engaged a responsible gaming expert to ensure all of our practices are in line with responsible gaming best practices to ensure we are part of the solution and not of the problem are. ”
Other states celebrating Problem Gambling Awareness Month include New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Louisiana and also Nevada. Some activities related to the month include:
Conferences Public announcements Health screening days Social media campaigns
This year’s hashtag for the campaign across social media platforms is #PGAM2023.
There is a word for gambling addiction
The word “Ludomania” sounds like it could be something fun, like a club or a game show. However, what it really means is the “urge to stop gambling continuously, despite harmful negative consequences or a desire to stop”. These “harmful negative consequences” can interfere with, disrupt, or harm personal, family, and professional activities, according to the Colorado Lottery.
It is estimated that approximately two million US adults (1% of the population) meet the criteria for serious problem gambling. Four to six percent meet the criteria for a mild or moderate gambling problem. The Mayo Clinic has said that gambling stimulates the brain’s reward system, much like alcohol does. And the impulse control disorder of gambling addiction can be progressive, according to medicalnewstoday.com.
According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, someone who experiences at least four of these over a year has a gambling disorder:
Needing to gamble increasing amounts of money to feel excited Restlessness or irritability when trying to stop gambling Repeated unsuccessful attempts to stop, control, or reduce gambling Frequently thinking about and planning to gamble when gambling Feeling desperate Returning to gambling after losing money Lying to hide gambling activities Relationship or work problems because of gambling Dependent on others to spend money on gambling Losses accumulate during the big gambling months
Annual gambling losses in the US top $100 billion, according to Wallet Hub. The average debt for men with gambling addiction ranges from $50,000 to $90,000. For women, it’s $15,000.
Here in Colorado, according to PGCC, two of the months with the most calls to its gambling hotline in 2022 were February (829 calls) and March (611 calls), the months of the Super Bowl and March Madness.
At the other end of the spectrum, Wallet Hub defines the healthier experience of recreational or social gambling than the occasional purchase of a lottery ticket or visiting a casino. Such players can quit at any time and avoid catastrophic financial loss.
Online sports betting is a “bookmaker in the palm of your hand”
Play Colorado spoke to Peggy Brown, President of the All-Volunteer PGCC, about Problem Gambling Awareness Month. She said that sports betting spending in the state is astronomical, citing easy access to mobile sports betting as a key factor.
Brown calls mobile phones “the bookmaker in the palm of your hand”. Mobile sports betting could especially appeal to younger people who have lived online all their lives.
Overall, though, Brown is upbeat, saying she’s “pleased with the progress we’ve made over the past year” with new legislation and also with grants awarded in February.
“The state is advancing”
The PGCC is collaborating with EPIC Risk Management on a new utility. EPIC works with the NCAA to offer a comprehensive prevention program to collegiate athletes as well as administrators. Colorado will also expand the program to community colleges. Brown hopes the information will “bleed through” to high school students, too.
The PGCC is also opening its new Problem Gambling Center, hopefully sometime this month. The state-funded walk-in center will offer therapist appointments and other services.