By Darren Cooper
Expect to see green stick around after St. Patrick’s Day.
Illinois Governor JB Pritzker in conjunction with the IDHS announced that multiple buildings this month in downtown Chicago will be lit up teal, to be exact, as a show of support and to raise awareness for people struggling with gambling addiction.
March is well known as the month of college basketball frenzy, but it’s also Problem Gaming Awareness Month in the United States and the Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS) has partnered with multiple providers across the state to create a full slate of events to help those struggling with addiction.
IDHS Secretary Grace B. Hou in a press release:
“Individuals who struggle with gambling disorders seldom seek help and often hide their behavior from family members. This month is an opportunity for IDHS and our providers to come together to continue to get the word out about the recovery support services that are available.”
Hou has been the Secretary of the IDHS since March 2019.
What are the Numbers on Gambling Addiction?
The Substance Abuse Prevention and Recovery (SUPR) unit of the local government has made it a mission to try to track and treat men and women with the disease.
The organization cited stats from the fiscal year 2021 that showed a 440% increase in people coming forward with a gambling addiction. This is on the heels of a 185% increase the year before.
While gambling addiction numbers rise, the number of trained clinicians to treat gambling addiction is only 245. The SUPR is also offering a 30-hour Gambling Counselor training program to boost the number of clinicians.
Illinois casinos saw more than 600,000 gamblers last month that helped pump $11.5 million into the state’s economy.
The IDHS has commissioned a study on problem gambling in the state and what services are currently available. It plans to look at the type of gambling available, how deep the issue of problem gambling is.
What services are available?
The SUPR is providing online resources for those struggling with gambling addiction throughout the month of March sponsored by the Way Back Inn organization, and a two-day summit of leaders on problem gambling.
Some support groups are available in person. On March 18, the Market Place Shopping Plaza at 2000 N. Neil Street in Champaign will host a gambling outreach program.
The full list of resources available can be found here.
Don’t bet on it! Know when to stop
There are multiple resources to help if you find yourself losing control of your gambling habits.
In Illinois, you can text ILGAMB to 53342.
The state’s hotline is available at 1-800-GAMBLER and the website weknowthefeeling.org.