Gambling Disorder: Is it a Real Problem?

Holly T. Meginniss, MSW, LSWAIC

   Bright lights, exciting sounds, lots of sounds, and lots of freebies. The lure of a casino can be hypnotic, and is designed to draw you in. The rolling counters of how much money you can win at a machine can be worth the risk, sometimes you might get lucky and win a few bucks. You get a roll going in a poker game or the blackjack table, and you want to keep going because you know you are going to keep winning, after all, you’ve already won; you tell yourself that “If I keep going, I have a chance to win more.” Then you stop winning, and the money you won is gone, in addition to the several trips to the convenient ATM for more cash.

                Maybe you don’t go to the casino; instead you play the Lottery games available. Playing those big jackpots with your co-workers or family, then maybe trying your luck at the scratch games available. The commercials say it’s easy, the odds are in your favor. Then you realize that you are spending money that needs to be elsewhere on your lottery tickets, maybe feeling like if you don’t, you’ll be missing out on an opportunity—maybe this will be the time you hit big.

                Playing the slots and games on the Internet are “free,” until you realize that the freebees don’t last long. Maybe you win more opportunities to play, and then you decide that you want to go to the next level—spend money to get to those opportunities. Then it becomes something you find yourself doing at inappropriate times, staying up all hours of the day and night for your shot at the big cash.

                Gambling is everywhere in our lives, and unless you live under a rock, completely unavoidable. For some people, it becomes a consuming disorder, damaging their finances, their relationships, and their ability to function day to day. But there is help! If you would like to learn more about the options for you or someone you love, please give me a call at Healthy Counseling Center for a phone consultation; I have specialized training in Gambling disorder, as well as the additional specialty of child, adolescent, and family therapy. Gambling disorder does not discriminate based on age, gender, or income bracket. If you believe you or someone you love may be developing a gambling problem, please call me at 509-466-6632.