Problem gambling, also known as gambling addiction or compulsive gambling, is defined as the urge to gamble despite harmful negative consequences or a desire to stop. It’s estimated that approximately 160,000 to 214,000 Minnesotans struggle with this addictive disorder, which can destroy lives, threaten family relationships and empty retirement savings.
Virtually anyone – men or women, young or old, from every religion, race and socio-economic background – can be at risk for developing a gambling problem. They can play the horses, slots, the lottery, pull-tabs, cards and bingo.
It is estimated that one to two percent of Minnesotans meet the diagnostic criteria for compulsive gambling. Another one to two percent experience problems related to their gambling behaviors.
The most serious form of problem gambling is pathological gambling, the essential feature of which is “persistent and recurrent maladaptive behavior that disrupts personal, family or vocational pursuits.” (American Psychiatric Association – DSM-IV)
Compulsive gambling can result in social, emotional and financial devastation, including loss of relationships, residence, emotional or physical health, and career or educational opportunities.
Some compulsive gamblers commit illegal acts to support their gambling or to pay off gambling-related debts. Some go to prison or are admitted to psychiatric institutions. It is not uncommon to hear about compulsive gamblers who attempt or commit suicide.
Each year, the Northstar Problem Gambling Alliance holds several regional trainings, as well as an annual conference. For more information, please visit the calendar of events.
Hope for anyone suffering from gambling addiction is just one call away. Call the Minnesota Problem Gambling Helpline at (800) 333-HOPE. The helpline is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.