A few small bets may be harmless, but the addiction can take over and destroy lives and families.
Ron Felton, a certified gambling counselor serving western and central Nebraska, says there are signs to look for when determining if there’s a problem.
“Generally, what we look at is if they’re struggling financially, if it’s causing problems in their relationships, if they’re missing school or work,” Felton says. “It’s like any addiction, and often, the person with that addiction may not see it as an issue and that’s why I often do get the call from a family member first.”
Studies find that on average, about 3% of the total population may be affected by problem gambling, which if not treated, puts the affected person and their family at financial and emotional risk. Counseling can be a huge help, according to Felton.
“I’m more than happy to visit with the family members or the person that’s struggling with the gambling problem, either one,” Felton says. “We don’t care what type of gambling that person may be doing. Even if it’s illegal sports betting, it doesn’t matter to us, it’s still private and confidential.”
The National Problem Gambling Helpline is staffed around the clock and is toll-free at 800-522-4700.
By Brent Wiethorn, KKPR, Kearney