Covid-19 Pandemic Stirs Problem Gambling Awareness Month

Covid-19 Pandemic Stirs Problem Gambling Awareness Month

The Covid-19 pandemic stopped almost every sporting event around the globe. Operators, bookmakers and gamblers were placed hanging for a short time as they wait for the perfect opportunity to enjoy the games. 

Thankfully, online casino games and virtual sports paved way for gambling to operate.  The attention of sports operators and gamblers shifted from actual games to online gambling.  The rising online casino could aid the economies of countries if regulated but at the same time brings risk to problem gamblers.

Problem Gambling Awareness Month

Casino.org described the Covid-19 pandemic as a “perfect storm” for those who have gambling issues.  Anti-gambling addiction groups said that problem gamblers might find it hard to control their addiction especially now that they are free to gamble in online gaming sites.

Eliezabeth Thielen, Senior Director of Substance Abuse Treatment Services at Nicasa Behavioral Health Services in Illinois, her jam-packed schedule to speak at conferences and other events were cancelled because of the restrictions placed by the government to battle Covid-19.

Agencies that advocates in responsible gaming became very busy this month amidst the increase in online gaming subscriptions.  Keith Whyte, the executive director of the National Council on Problem Gambling, informed that Gamblers Anonymous (GA) is now launching daily phone-in sessions for problem gamblers whose in-person meetings were cancelled.  Anti- gambling addiction watch dogs warned that people who are not in treatment and those looking for help might find it hard to look for assistance.

The American Gaming Association’s latest report said that 95% of commercial casinos in the United States closed, along with the three-quarters of the tribal venues. The heightened government measures caused sports books to scramble in looking for markets to offer their products.

A ‘Perfect Storm’ for Problem Gamers

Anti-gambling advocates reported that people in treatment might face challenges in reaching their support systems.  They noted that people might look for an outlet to channel their stress while they are staying at home because of losing their jobs or because they were told to self-isolate.

Ms. Thielen said that some people can become restless or irritable as they fight their gambling addiction.  Some gambling addicts can be shaky, sweaty because anxiety causes those symptoms. She also described problem gamblers to be action-focused with an adrenaline rush from gambling.  She added that physical symptoms are not visible in some cases but they usually show mood swings.

James Grimes, an ex-gambling addict and the founder of The Big Step, believed that the pandemic and online gambling is a perfect storm.  He said that people without gambling addiction might find gambling a way to kill time but there are people who are adversely financially affected by it.

Mr. Grimes said that gambling advertisement gives the wrong impression that gambling is a quick way of getting money. Grimes said that casual customers are at risk of replacing their usual limited sports bet to the relentless but unlimited wages for virtual casino games and sports.

He warned that people are not aware of the addictive nature of the online casino products. He added that a small casual bet might lead to some sort of problem or addiction.

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