This is “National Problem Gaming Week” and the head of Iowa’s gambling treatment program says the new poker craze has become a concern along with casino gambling. Frank Biagioli says Texas Hold ’em tournaments could turn a game between friends into an obsession. “With the poker craze, I think people need to be cognizant of their limits,” Biagioli says. “They need to watch out just to what extend they’re devoting time and money to that particular game. If it gets to be where (poker) becomes their basic life, they may want to assess their behavior.” Biagioli says 80 percent of the people who call for help still list casinos as their primary means of wagering. But he says he says poker can become a problem if people get addicted. He says letting poker dominate your life can lead to the “road to ruin.” He says help is available for any type of gambling addiction by calling 1-800-BETS-OFF. “People with a commitment to a…lifestyle of moderation and a change of behavior can return to the community and be a contributing member once again,” Biagioli says. He says unfortunately, problem gamblers get so good at hiding their addiction, a husband or wife has no idea what the problem is. “They may be thinking the person is having an affair for example, they’re gone so much,” Biagioli says ..”really they are having an affair — with gambling too much.” Biagioli says problem gamblers also go through resources the family had depended on. He says they may go through retirement income, or a college fund for kids. He says they may also borrow money from friends or go as far as embezzling money from work to have money to gamble. Biagioli says less than two percent of Iowa’s residents admit to a gambling problem — but he says those who’re addicted often face devastating losses.
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