With the expansion of Phase 4 across much of upstate New York, residents will see gaming and gambling locations open to the public again. New safety precautions will be in place, including plexiglass dividers between dealers and patrons, handwashing stations throughout the facility, and mandating the use of a face mask; however, there is an additional safety measure the majority do not think about: preventing an addiction to gambling.
As more people flock back to these locations, it is important to understand the possibility of negative consequences that may arise from increased gambling activity. Problem gambling is defined as any time someone’s gambling habits negatively impact their life. This could be relationship struggles, financial turmoil or work-related issues at their place of employment. Compared to other addictions, problem gambling is seen as “hidden” and it can be difficult for someone to distinguish warning signs. Potential warning signs for problem gambling include gambling to escape or avoid worries, frustration or disappointments; increasing the amount of money bet and/or time gambling in an effort to win back losses; and betting with money needed for necessities. Additionally, a gambling problem may include feelings of shame, guilt, depression and anxiety.
An individual may not be ready to receive help for their gambling addiction; however, help will always be available. The Finger Lakes Problem Gambling Resource Center remains open throughout the pandemic, because resources and treatment for problem gambling are essential. Local, barrier-free options are available to individuals and loved ones struggling with a gambling problem. If you feel you may be experiencing any of these issues due to your gambling, contact the FLPGRC at (585) 351-2262 or fingerlakespgrc@nyproblemgambling.org.