Tonight’s Powerball drawing is for the world’s largest-ever jackpot of $1.5 billion and many Iowans are dreaming about winning it big.
For problem gamblers, the hype over the game can be distracting at the least, if not overwhelming. Debra Buckner, a gambling treatment counselor in Waterloo, says if you have a loved one with a gambling problem, simply talk to them, even if it’s uncomfortable.
“Just reminding them that it is a form of entertainment and they should utilize their money they would generally spend for entertainment in the same way,” Buckner says. “With the odds being 1-in-292-million, the chances of you winning the big jackpot are not significant.” For many problem gamblers, playing the Powerball doesn’t have the same allure as a trip to the casino, with the potential for immediate gratification.
“There’s a lot of research out there now comparing substance abuse with gambling addiction and how it impacts the brain,” Buckner says. “For some gamblers, they are not triggered by the stimulus of a lottery ticket or a lottery purchase like they might be to the bells and whistles of a slot machine.” There are some warning signs that may hint at a gambling problem, like blowing your rent or utility money on games of chance.
“Taking a look at what you’re spending, that would be the first clue, and then if you’re being secretive about your purchases, if you’re purchasing lottery tickets and you’re not telling anyone and you’re going to multiple places to get tickets and you’re finding yourself short with money you should have applied to other things.” Just as problem gamblers can have themselves banned from casinos, the Iowa Lottery offers a self-exclusion option as well.
Buckner, who works at Pathways Behavioral Services in Waterloo, says those who wish can bar themselves from being able to collect lottery jackpots of at least $600 at all five regional offices. For more information, call 1-800-BETS-OFF or visit www.1800betsoff.org.