Virginia Council on Problem Gambling hopes to raise awareness of addiction

The organization says the main warning signs are the three C’s: control, craving and consequences.
Published: Mar. 4, 2022 at 7:36 AM EST
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HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) - March is Problem Gambling Awareness Month and the Virginia Council on Problem Gambling is hoping to help people in need by spreading the word about the warning signs of problem gambling.

The organization says the main warning signs are the three C’s: control, craving and consequences.

“Are you spending more time and more money than you planned gambling? And also with that, control. Are you attempting to cut back and not being successful with it?” said Dr. Carolyn Hawley, president of the Virginia Council on Problem Gambling.

“Then there’s craving, are you thinking about gambling often when you’re not playing or reliving past gambling events and thinking about future ones? Then consequences, are there negative impacts on your relationships, on work, on school?”

VCPG saw a 114% increase in calls to its gambling crisis helpline in 2021 compared to 2020, some of which can be linked to sports betting which became legal in Virginia in April of 2020.

“There is data that suggests there are higher rates of problem gambling among sports bettors and this could also be related to its mobile wagering which allows for instantaneous and immediate gambling, and the speed of play is also associated with increased gambling problems,” said Hawley.

VCPG says nationwide studies show that around one to two percent of individuals have a gambling disorder, a medical condition defined by the American Psychiatric Association.

An additional two to three percent have what is referred to as problem gambling, who don’t meet all the criteria for a gambling disorder but do have significant problems with gambling.

VCPG’s gambling helpline provides services and information to those struggling with problem gambling and also connects them with treatments.

“Typically we do a lot of outpatient counseling programs however there are some in-patient programs in the state as well for specific treatments, there are self-help groups similar to alcoholics anonymous there’s gambler’s anonymous,” said Hawley.

74% of the callers to the helpline in 2021 were male. VCPG also saw a large increase in younger callers, with those ages 18-35 accounting for the largest number of calls for the first time ever.

If you or someone you know is struggling with problem gambling you can call the VCPG helpline at 1-888-532-3500.

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