SEEing The Importance of Problem Gambling Awareness Month

Problem Gambling Awareness Month (PGAM) is intended to raise awareness about the impact of gambling-related harms on individuals, families, and communities. Organized annually in March, this month serves as a time to educate the public. It’s a time to advocate for gambling harm prevention and provide support for those affected by problem gambling. It is the perfect time to help our communities SEE (support, educate and engage) the importance of promoting problem gambling awareness, empathy, and positive change. 

Understanding Problem Gambling 

Problem gambling has been previously known as compulsive gambling. When severe enough, it may be diagnosed by a trained clinician as gambling addiction. It is a behavioral disorder for individuals struggling to control or resist the urge to gamble, despite negative consequences. Problem gambling can affect anyone, regardless of age, gender, or background. Finally, it may lead to severe financial, emotional, and mental health problems. 

Signs of Problem Gambling 

  • Gambling to escape or avoid worries, frustration or disappointments. 
  • Neglecting other responsibilities to concentrate on gambling activities. 
  • Increasing the amount of money bet in an effort to win back losses. 
  • Gambling with money needed for necessary expenses, such as groceries or medication. 
  • Relying on others to get out of debt. 
  • Feeling desperate, depressed or even suicidal because of gambling. 

The Impact of Gambling Harm 

Financial Consequences: Individuals struggling with the effects of gambling harm often face significant financial strain. This may be due to excessive gambling activities, leading to debt, bankruptcy, and/or loss of assets. 

Emotional and Mental Health Challenges: Gambling harms can contribute to anxiety, depression, and increased stress levels. The emotional toll on individuals and their families can be devastating, affecting relationships and overall well-being. 

Legal Issues: Gambling harms may include legal problems, such as theft, fraud, or other criminal activities. These harms can be sparked by an individuals attempt to fund their gambling habits, chasing their losses and/or the “high” that’s experienced during their gambling. 

Social Isolation: Many times, shame and guilt are associated with problem gambling. This may lead to social withdrawal, strained relationships, and a sense of isolation. Those struggling may choose to isolate themselves while waiting for their “big win” they believe is “due” and believe it will alleviate many of the gambling harms they may be suffering with. 

The Role of Problem Gambling Awareness Month 

Education: PGAM is an opportunity to increase public awareness of problem gambling. It’s a time to connect the public with prevention, treatment and recovery services for problem gambling. It is also a time to encourage community partners to screen for problem gambling. 

Screening for Problem Gambling: Screening is vital to servicing individuals and families in need to help identify those who may need support. By encouraging screening through events, such as Screening Day on March 12th, we help raise awareness to medical and mental health professionals while connecting individuals and families to the support services and care that they may need. 

Support and Resources: PGAM provides a platform for promoting available resources and support services for individuals affected by gambling harm. It encourages open dialogue to reduce stigma associated with problem gambling, and foster environments where people feel comfortable seeking help. 

How to Get Involved 

Spread Awareness: Share information about Problem Gambling Awareness Month on social media platforms, within your community, and through relevant organizations to reach a broader audience. 

Educate Your Community: Organize events, workshops, or connect community members with webinars that focus on educating the public about the signs of gambling harm and the available resources. 

Attend the NYCPG Annual Conference: Join hundreds of professionals and community members who have a strong interest in raising awareness of problem gambling and connecting individuals and families struggling to support services. Learn more about the NYCPG Annual Conference on Problem Gambling and register to reserve your seat HERE 

Help and Support 

If you find yourself struggling with gambling harm, or if you suspect someone you know is facing such challenges, don’t hesitate to seek help. For 24/7 support, call the NYS OASAS HOPEline at 1-877-846-7369 or text 467369. Or choose your county using our interactive map on our HOME PAGE to see the contact information for the Problem Gambling Resource Center (PGRC) in your region.  

Problem Gambling Awareness Month plays a crucial role in shedding light on the often-overlooked issue of problem gambling. By raising awareness, providing support, and advocating for prevention, treatment and recovery practices, we can contribute to creating a safer community for individuals and families affected by problem gambling. Let us join together to help our communities SEE (support, educate and engage) the importance of promoting problem gambling awareness, empathy, and positive change.