March is Problem Gambling Awareness Month, and Illinois is conducting an anonymous survey to understand gambling addiction better.
Illinois hasn’t conducted such a study in more than 20 years.
But with the 2019 gaming expansion bringing online sports betting, more slot machines and six new casinos (eventually), the state has contracted researchers to examine the issue. The study will be conducted through the Illinois Department of Human Services.
Calls to the state’s gambling disorder hotline have more than doubled since 2019.
The National Council on Problem Gaming (NCPG) estimates that about 2%-3% of Americans meet the criteria for problem gambling. About 40% of people who have a gambling problem started gambling before the age of 17.
But considering we haven’t studied the matter in Illinois in over 20 years, we don’t know if those figures are accurate in the Prairie State. Hopefully, we’ll have a better idea once the examination is complete.
The IL study consists of a survey targeting those who regularly bet, legally or otherwise.
The topics are wide-ranging and include underground dogfighting and cockfighting.
Whether or not you consider yourself a problem gambler, researchers want to hear from you if you’re a regular bettor.
If you or someone you know has a gambling problem, call 1-800-GAMBLER or 1-800-426-2537 for help.
Tips to avoid problem gambling
In the meantime, here are some tips and strategies to help curb problem gambling:
- Don’t bet more than you can afford to lose: While it’s always nice to win, don’t assume that you will. You should never put yourself in a situation where losing a bet (or bets) moves the needle on your overall financial situation.
- Treat betting as a form of entertainment: When you go to a movie theater or out to dinner at a restaurant, you are paying for an experience. A tip to control problem gambling is to treat betting the same way. Of course, there’s a chance you’ll walk out of the experience with more money, but prepare for the possibility that it won’t happen.
- Stop when you’re down, but also, when you’re ahead: Just because you’re on a hot streak, it doesn’t mean it will continue. Withdrawing winnings while ahead is a great way to gamble responsibly.
- Don’t gamble while under the influence: Obviously, this can lead to poor and impulsive decision-making.
- Encourage friends/family to only gamble responsibly: Perhaps you have all of this down, but you know someone who doesn’t. Take the opportunity to be a good influence and help others avoid problem gambling.
It helps to bet with regulated sportsbooks
Problem gambling can happen with legal or illegal sportsbooks, but legal sportsbooks encourage and promote responsible gaming habits.
Offshore sites and bookies, on the other hand, usually do not. In fact, they often prey on losing bettors, encouraging them to chase losses and gambling amass debt.
One of the plusses of regulating gambling is to get everything out into the open, and to nip issues in the bud when they arise.