This is National Problem Gambling Awareness week and state gambling prevention officials say they’re worried the problems could be even worse with the poor economy.
Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) Gambling Treatment program manager, Mark Vander Linden, says people faced with financial trouble may look to get rich quick ideas to try and turn things around.
Vander Linden says there’s concern and some logic to the concern because people are under a lot of stress from layoffs, foreclosure of their homes, or loss of money in investments, and they may turn to gambling to try and find a fix to their economic woes. Vander Linden says the idea of winning a big jackpot to cure you economic ills is more fantasy than reality.
He says, "Obviously the odds are astronomically against them that they would win something like Powerball, but the fantasy or the dream is real, that if you win that it would solve the economic problems they’re facing." Vander Linden says you should take the same approach to gambling good and bad economic times.
Vander Linden says you should buy lottery tickets or go to the casino with money you have set aside for entertainment and set a limit on the amount you will gamble. He says you should not gamble with the thought you need to make your next house payment.
Vander Linden says most people can control their gambling behavior and stop when they need to — but others will continue and spiral into a gambling problem. He says there are a couple of questions to ask yourself to see if you may have a problem.
"Have you ever felt the need to bet more and more money? Have you ever had to lie to people important to you about how much you gambled? Yes, to one or both of those is a strong indication that there is a problem here, that you should take a look to explore possibly getting some help to address that," Vander Linden says.
Vander Linden says help is easy to get. He says the quickest way to get help of more information is to call 1-800-BETS-OFF. You can also visit the Iowa Gambling Treatment Program website .