March is National Problem Gambling Awareness Month.
Gambling has been expanding in Indiana since the Hoosier Lottery’s start back in 1989.
Things have come a long way since then, and Hoosiers even have online sports betting as an option nowadays.
As the industry expands, it’s important to take some time to look at the responsibility that both Hoosiers and gambling companies share.
Right now, the industry looks at problem gambling from three main angles.
1. Problem gambling prevention
The first category for problem gambling is arguably the most important.
Preventing problem gambling before it happens is the key to keeping gamblers safe.
So how does the industry do that? What steps do gamblers and gambling companies need to take in order to prevent problems?
A lot of this comes down to being an informed gambler.
Staying in the know can help Hoosiers keep gambling as a fun activity, rather than a source of stress.
Don’t expect to make it rich
First and foremost, gamblers should treat the activity as leisure.
Never bet money that you’re not willing to lose, and don’t expect to make a profit when you gamble.
The vast majority of gamblers are losers in the long term, which is important to keep in mind.
As they say, the house always wins.
Of course, a small percent of gamblers out there do make a living off of betting.
However, these should be treated as the exception to the rule.
Casinos and sportsbooks are businesses first, and they’re designed to make you lose in the long run.
Gambling is a great form of entertainment for a lot of people.
If you’re not expecting to make it rich from gambling, then you’ll never be surprised if you lose. Coming in with that mindset is a great first step towards preventing problem gambling.
Set limits for yourself
Setting gambling limits is a great habit to get into. They’ll help you keep yourself in check and make sure that you’re gambling responsibly.
For example, you can set a budget for yourself when visiting a casino.
If you’re constantly running over-budget on your trips, that’s a clear sign that gambling is becoming a problem for you.
Once you set a budget, hold yourself accountable to stay within its limits.
If that becomes a difficult task, then gambling is probably not for you.
Limits are a great way to keep track of how much you’re spending, and will help make sure that you don’t overextend yourself.
Some of the tools that gambling companies provide can help with this.
Use the tools that sportsbooks provide
Sportsbooks provide a lot of resources that online gamblers can use to help prevent problem gambling.
These companies have a responsibility to help prevent gambling addiction, so many of them provide tools to help.
Take PointsBet, for example.
The company has an entire page dedicated to just problem gambling prevention. The sportsbook provides some of the following helpful tools:
- Deposit Limits: Sets a limit for how much money you can deposit into your account at any time.
- Setting Time Limits: Places a cap on how long you can be logged into your sportsbook account on any given day.
- Setting Spend Limits: Limits the amount of money that you can gamble at once.
- Cool Off Periods: Take a break from betting. Essentially locks your sportsbook account for a set period of time such as three, seven or 30 days.
- Withdrawal Cancelations: You can cancel a withdrawal from your account before it completes, but you can turn this feature off at any time.
If you end up setting limits like these for your account, then you’ll have to wait a set amount of time before you can change them again.
Tools like these are available at all of Indiana’s online sportsbooks, so you don’t have to be a PointsBet user to take advantage of these helpful features.
2. Recognizing gambling addiction
Unfortunately, 2-3% of gamblers will eventually face problems with addiction.
Recognizing the warning signs is the first step to treating the problem.
Knowing what gambling addiction looks like can help Hoosiers identify problem gambling in the early stages.
Chasing your losses
Chasing losses is a common sign that gambling is becoming a problem for you.
Let’s face it, losing a bet sucks.
It’s the down side of gambling, and no one enjoys losing money.
However, trying to “make up for” your last loss is a bad idea.
Placing another bet will not fix your last one. In fact, it’s likely that you’ll lose that wager as well, and then you’ll be even deeper in the hole.
Don’t put yourself in a tough situation by chasing your losses.
If you or someone you know is frequently doing this, then they are likely developing a gambling problem.
Gambling spending shame
Feeling bad about how much you’re gambling? That’s not a great sign.
Many problem gamblers will feel some type of guilt about their spending.
That’s a common problem gambling sign, but that internal guilt doesn’t apply to everyone.
For some problem gamblers, that manifests itself as lying to your loved ones or friends about how much you’re spending.
If you find yourself hiding your gambling activity, then it’s probably time to stop.
Another common gambling addiction sign is feeling like you have to bet.
Some people describe their problem gambling as a type of “itch” that they have to scratch to feel normal.
If you wake up and don’t feel like yourself until you gamble, then you might have a problem.
Of course, this is not the complete list of problem gambling warning signs.
Other warning signs could include:
- Borrowing money to gamble
- Selling possessions to gamble
- Frustrations leading you to gamble
- Gambling to escape troubles or worries
- Gambling until you run out of money
- Becoming reluctant to spend your “gambling money” on other things
Problem gambling can look different for everyone, so be on the lookout for potential red flags.
Thankfully, there are lots of problem gambling treatment options in Indiana.
3. Treating problem gambling
If gambling becomes a negative force in your life, then there are lots of ways to get help from professionals.
Recognizing problem gambling is the first step, but getting treatment is an important part of the process.
Take a self-assessment
If you have an inkling that gambling is a problem for you, but you’re not 100% sure, then taking a self-assessment can help you sort out the situation.
These quick tests ask a number of different questions related to how you feel about gambling.
Once you finish the assessment, it adds up your score to help decipher your relationship to gambling.
Based on your score, you might be classified as a problem gambler.
Self-assessments are not an ironclad way of defining your relationship to gambling, but they can be a great step in the right direction.
Call the problem gambling hotline
The problem gambling hotline is another resource for seeking help.
In Indiana, the phone number for the hotline is 1-800-9-WITH-IT, or 1-800-9-994-8448.
You can call anytime. The number is active 24 hours a day.
You can use the hotline to receive a confidential referral to help with any problem gambling symptoms you may be dealing with.
Use voluntary exclusion
Voluntary exclusion is a system that lets you ban yourself from gambling in Indiana.
If you struggle with gambling addiction, then this can be a great way to hold yourself accountable.
Once your sign up, you’ll essentially become banned from all of Indiana’s casinos and online sportsbooks. That removes both of the main gambling options in the state.
To sign up for voluntary exclusion, you can visit any Indiana casino, the Indiana Gaming Commission office in Indianapolis, or a designated treatment provider.
The self-induced ban can last for one year, five years, or for a lifetime. Consult a professional to help determine which timeline is best for you.
Take advantage of other problem gambling resources
Indiana has an entire list of other problem gambling resources that anyone can use.
If you’re struggling with problem gambling, then checking out that list is a great place to start.
Everyone has different needs, so looking at all of the options could help you determine which one is right for you.
Gambling addiction is a treatable problem, so don’t be afraid to reach out for professional help.
Problem gambling recap
Prevention, recognition and treatment are the three main stages of problem gambling.
Gambling with the right mindset can help stop problems before they develop.
Setting limits for yourself and knowing the signs of problem gambling can be a huge difference maker.
If you or someone you know falls into the 3% of gamblers struggling with addiction, then recognizing that you have a problem is the first step. Be on the lookout for signs that your gambling is getting out of hand.
There are plenty of treatment options to help problem gamblers in Indiana.
If you think you’re developing a problem, you should seek out professional help to determine your next steps.
Gambling addiction is a preventable and treatable problem.
Gambling is a great way to have fun for the vast majority of Hoosiers.
However, it’s important to take a moment during National Problem Gambling Awareness Month to make sure that you’re approaching things from the right angle.
Staying informed is the best way to make sure that you’re staying safe during all of your gambling endeavors.