You’ve heard how some recovering alcoholics think that it’s OK to have a glass of wine with dinner. Maybe a bottle of beer, here and there. These individuals are on the fast track to a full blown relapse. Ultimately, abstinence means abstinence. And while a substance abuse disorder is different than a behavioral health disorder such as problem gambling, the same rule is true – a problem gambler cannot participate in the “soft stuff” as much as they must abstain from the “heavy stuff” such as casino gaming and online sports betting.
What is exactly is the “:soft stuff” that is often brushed away as being of little consequence? What are the different forms of gambling that you (a problem gambler) may not have considered to be gambling?
5 Less-Obvious and Different Forms of Gambling in the U.S. that Problem Gamblers Must Also Stay Away
Powerball and Other Draw Lotteries
Powerball and similar types of lottery games are a form of gambling that involve the drawing of numbers at random for prizes (generally cash) that are available only to those who have purchased the winning tickets.
Research shows that habitual lottery players share characteristics of traditional gambling addicts. Furthermore, lottery players may have a higher risk of problem gambling compared to those who wager on games-of-skill:
“The study also found that individuals participating in common gambling activities such as betting on slots, playing dice and buying lottery tickets were more likely to lead to problem gambling than gambling with a perceived element of skill gambling such as day trading and playing pool for money.”University of Colorado Boulder
Moreover, lotteries appear to be preying on vulnerable populations, which is a whole other issue:
“A 2022 nationwide investigation of state lotteries by the Howard Center For Investigative Journalism at the University of Maryland found stores that sell tickets are disproportionately clustered in lower-income communities in nearly every state where the game is played.”ABC News
Scratch cards are another form of state-run lottery, which are therefore another form of gambling. Scratch cards have received even more press than traditional draw lotteries of late, because youth are being targeted to play these games by their very own family members during the Holiday season and other gift-giving celebrations. In addition, studies have shown a positive association between problem gambling severity and scratch card gambling frequency.
Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS)
U.S. states are in general agreement that for an activity to be defined as gambling, it must involve the three elements of i) chance, ii) prize, and iii) consideration. However, how each U.S. state interprets these qualifiers varies and depends upon how each writes its anti-gambling (or otherwise) statutes. For instance, in early 2016 a number of states stepped up to assert that daily fantasy sports (DFS) were forms of illegal gambling under state laws. Proponents of the opinion that fantasy sports are gambling state that is is not a contest of skill within the meaning of respective state laws, given that outcomes are ultimately determined by the performance of players on the field. Ultimately, whether or not fantasy sports are considered gambling comes down to one’s vulnerability to problem gambling. Studies have found that higher fantasy game participation is associated with higher rates of problematic gambling. Consequently, problem gamblers should stay away from DFS and all forms of fantasy sports that offer prizes for picks.
Day trading is more of a grey area because there is a level of knowledge and skill involved that can significantly increase one’s odds of making financial gains. It’s looked at more of an investment (in the stock market) although it’s more of a hands-on activity. While day trading is technically not a gambling activity, it can become addictive for the same reasons that gambling can become addictive. It should therefore be considered in the same manner as the more direct forms of gambling addressed above and below.
Social Sweepstakes Casinos
The existence of social sweepstakes casinos in the USA is a highly contentious topic, also it shouldn’t be. It’s pretty clear cut that these are no different than traditional online casinos, even though they hide the real money angle under the guise of coins., tokens, and prizes. Instead of offering players real money rewards (or losses) for playing online slots and table games, these operators keep the concept for winning (or losing) by gambling at an arm’s length. Players can purchase virtual coins or tokens to keep playing and increase their win totals. It’s not dissimilar to the gold bars concept in Candy Crush. As win totals are accumulated, players can exchange their coins or tokens for real money. This simple intermediary is what allows operators to skirt U.S. government regulation. At press, these free-to-play casinos are legal in every U.S. state except Washington, Idaho, and Nevada because players are not technically betting real money to win.
This is all of the reasoning a problem gambler needs to justify participation.
Make no bones about it, social sweepstakes are a form of gambling that offer just as much potential harm to problem gamblers as the smokey floor of a Las Vegas casino.
If you’re rationalizing participation in any of the activities above as a means to replace problematic gambling, you’re not doing yourself any favors. There is only one course of action to be taken to loosen the grip that gambling (in all forms) has on your life. Click or call below to make a change for the better.
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