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Know the Signs of Problem Gambling

Armen Hareyan's picture

Over 42,000 people in Nebraska, an estimated three percent of all adults, experience gambling problems each year, according to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

"When you know more about the warning signs, you can take personal action or help a friend or relative who's affected by problem gambling," said Eric Hunsberger with the Gamblers Assistance Program in the Division of Behavioral Health Services.

You may have a gambling problem if you:

  • Gamble for longer than you intended.
  • Borrow money to gamble.
  • Lie about how much you gambled.
  • Bet more than you intended.

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Other warning signs are:

  • Loss of interest and participation in normal activities with friends and family.
  • Avoidance of questions about time and money.
  • A sudden need for money/loans; missing possessions or assets; financial instability.
  • Decline in health and neglect of personal needs, such as medical, food, utilities, etc.
  • Changes in attitude and personality; emotional instability, withdrawal, depression.

Problem gambling affects the emotional, physical and financial wellness of individuals and their families and impacts every aspect of society, Hunsberger said.

National Gamblers Anonymous studies report that approximately 50 percent of their members stole to gamble, and over 33 percent had been arrested. In addition, 11 percent of Nebraska's students reported an increase in gambling activities between 2003 and 2005, according to the draft Nebraska Risk and Protective Factor Student Survey for 2005.

"The good news is that people don't have to wait to 'hit rock bottom' before asking for help," Hunsberger said. "We know that through awareness, education and, if necessary, treatment services, we can prevent further problem gambling issues for Nebraskans."