Problem Gambling Awareness Month 2023

March is Problem Gambling Awareness Month (PGAM) in the USA. The day of recognition was started by the National Council on Problem Gambling in 2003, which makes this year’s edition the 20th anniversary of PGAM. It asks individuals to acknowledge when the activity becomes disruptive and/or damaging to themselves, those they care about, or are responsible for. From there the campaign seeks to increase public awareness of problem gambling and the availability of prevention, treatment and recovery services.

Most people aren’t aware of this month-long event, and those who happen to come across it may assume that it has nothing to do with them. Those in the latter category are more than likely wrong. You see, approximately 2% of the population struggles with gambling disorder. That’s over six-and-a-half million Americans. However, when you consider the number who are at-risk of developing a gambling problem the degrees of separation from your circle tightens. The data varies by region, and in states that recently legalized sports betting research finds some very concerning numbers. For instance, 8.4% of the adult population in Massachusetts are deemed to be at-risk. In Nebraska, that number is much higher at over 15%. The odds of being touched by this growing concern are actually quite high. For this reason we ask that you join us in spreading awareness.

How will you honor Problem Gambling Awareness Month 2023? We’ve provided ways to do so depending upon your circumstances.

How to Recognize Problem Gambling Awareness Month and Initiate a Call to Action in 2023

For Individuals

If you bet on sports and/or wager on casino games, it’s time for self-reflection. Take an introspective look at your behavior over the past year. If there has been any negative impact on your life because of it (on finances, relationships, etc.) action may need to be taken. Of course, you can’t simply self-diagnose a gambling problem, which is why our specialists have provided a short questionnaire to help you identify whether or not you have cause for concern:

For Families

Do you suspect that a family member or someone else that you care about has a gambling problem? It’s an uncomfortable position to be in, but you may be the catalyst for change that they need. First, you should brush-up on what may be considered symptoms. Many of the self-examination signs of betting addiction can also be applied to help you assess whether or not someone in your family has a gambling problem. Monitor for the following:

  • They constantly talk about betting on sports (not just general sports talk).
  • They appear upset, irritable, restless, angry, or anxious in having missed an opportunity to bet on a game.
  • They gamble as a means to escape problems at home, work, or elsewhere.
  • They reference gambling as a means to get out of debt.
  • They miss out on opportunities (career based, etc.) because of the time and energy spent gambling.
  • They miss out on important time with friends and family because of the time and energy spent gambling.
  • They have committed a crime (i.e theft or fraud) to get money to gamble.
  • They have asked to borrow money to gamble.
  • They have lied about betting on a game or visiting a casino.
  • They are in financial trouble even though they have a good job and reasonable income.

If you note one or a combination of the above, open up dialogue in a caring non-judgmental manner to let them know that you’re concerned for their wellbeing. Moreover, inform them that your support can be hands-on, in that you will attend counseling with them. There are gambling disorder therapy options for families that provide a safe, confidential, and effective space to get help, together.

For Business Owners

Present-day employers are in a position to take action against a growing number of concerns that pertain to the health and wellness of staff. Use PGAM 2023 as motivation to adopt problem gambling into this list of employee mental health concerns. This will also address threats to your productivity. You can do so by creating a policy regarding gambling in the workplace. We have provided instructions for how to create one, right here:

For Educational Institutions

Youth are more susceptible to marketing messages about gambling. When you consider the recent legalization of sports betting and the VERY limited regulation regarding its advertising, it’s easy to conclude that future generations are being groomed to be habitual gamblers.

While the onus of adolescent prevention falls on parents, post-secondary educational institutions are asked to prioritize awareness of problem gambling amongst young adults. This has become even more important as some colleges and universities accept monetary compensation from sportsbooks to promote gambling on campus.

Students already have a number of mental health concerns to contend with between the pressures of academics and collegiate sports. Adding gambling to the mix can be too much for their developing minds to bear. Educational institutions are called upon to help them through it all:

For Leagues and Associations

Lastly, we look to the very same organizations that millions of Americans are betting on – sports leagues and associations. Prospective, current, and retired players along with staff are closer to the action than anyone. While there are strict policies in place to prevent in-league betting (betting on your own team or league) there are allowances and loopholes with respect to other leagues and casino gaming. Look no further than the MLB as a case study. The MLB has a long and complicated history with respect to players with gambling problems.

One by one, leagues are stepping up to address the endemic concern. NASCAR currently has partnerships with behavioral health providers in the works (stay tuned) while the NFLPA’s Professional Athletes Foundation (PAF) has entered into a first-of-its-kind mental health program with Kindbridge Behavioral Health.

From the NCAA and MMA to the big leagues, athletic organizations are encouraged to use Problem Gambling Awareness Month 2023 to motivate action. Contact Kindbridge to discuss custom programs to support players and staff within your league or athletic association.

Please share this article with your social and professional circle to help spread the call-to-action for Problem Gambling Awareness Month 2023.