An Echo Press Editorial: Hope, help available for problem gambling

By the Echo Press Editorial Board

According to the National Council on Problem Gambling, or the NCPG, compulsive gambling affects approximately 2 million U.S. adults — roughly 1% of the U.S. adult population. Forum News Service file photo

Douglas County doesn’t have any casinos. The closest ones are a good hour and a half away but that doesn’t mean our area is immune from gambling problems and addictions.

There are pull tabs, scratch-off games and online wagering that can lead to financial woes, broken relationships and addictive behaviors.

How can you tell if you have a gambling problem? Here are some warning signs, according to the Minnesota Department of Human Services: Gambling until the last dollar is gone. Attempting – unsuccessfully – to stop gambling. Feeling remorseful after gambling.

During March, Problem Gambling Awareness Month, the Minnesota Department of Human Services is working to spread the word that hope and help are available.

Minnesota provides funds for gambling treatment for people who do not have insurance or another source of payment. No one is turned away if they can’t afford treatment. Services are paid for through lottery funds.


“Problem gambling can harm or destroy relationships, negatively impact employment and lead to severe depression,” said Human Services Commissioner Jodi Harpstead. ’”Sadly, problem gambling is most prevalent among low-income households that can least afford it. Fortunately, help is available.”

Individuals in need of help for themselves or a loved one can visit , call the Minnesota gambling helpline at 1-800-333-HOPE or text HOPE to 61222. New this year, the department of human services is making an extra effort to help ensure that the messages about hope and free help get out to people who speak languages other than English. Information about the website and helpline has been translated into Hmong, Spanish and Somali and will appear this month in newspapers that reach people who speak those languages.

Additional resources include:

Many may not realize how prevalent gambling is in Minnesota and the consequences of getting in too deep. A study of Minnesotans’ gambling behaviors found that in 2019:

  • 67% of adults participated in some type of gambling activity.

  • 1.3% of adults (more than 56,000 people) were problem gamblers.

  • More than 217,000 adults may have needed treatment for problem gambling or were at risk.

  • Nearly one-quarter of Minnesotans had been negatively affected by the gambling behaviors of a friend, family member or co-worker.

For most people, gambling is a harmless, fun way to while away a few hours. But for others, it can lead to problems too deep to dig out of on their own. Fortunately, the resources listed above can help.
Another option is Minnesota Gamblers Anonymous, a fellowship of men and women who share their experience, strength, and hope with each other that they may solve their common problem and help others to recover from a gambling problem. There are no dues or fees to become a member. The only requirement for membership is a desire to stop gambling. More information can be found on the website, . In addition to offering links and downloads, questions and answers and other information regarding gambling, the site lists meeting places via telephone or at sites throughout the state – many of them closer than a trip to the casino.

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