In an op-ed last week, PoAC editors expressed concern about one sobering fact: Twenty-one percent of the state’s residents deal with either gambling disorders (six percent) or gambling problems (15 percent).
According to the paper, the national average for both categories combined is 2.9 percent.
What’s secondary to the initial shock of the state’s astronomically high rate is that rival gambling mecca Nevada has an addiction rate of only 3.6 percent.
State of NJ should take part of the blame, PoAC says
The paper pointed directly at Trenton in explaining the abnormally high rates:
“The presence of a robust casino gaming industry increases the risk for gamblers, but so does New Jersey’s saturation with state-blessed betting opportunities. State government, ever in pursuit of revenue, has sought to maximize its lottery and been at the forefront of expanding gambling options such as betting online.”
Casinos are trying to raise awareness about problem gambling, including the American Gaming Association’s recent effort to strengthen its guidelines for member casinos.
In February, MGM Resorts International signed a deal with British Columbia’s casino regulators to enact GameSense, a responsible gambling program designed to help players “adopt behaviors and attitudes that can reduce the risk of devolving gambling problems,” an MGM press release read.
MGM plans to implement GameSense at all of its US properties by the end of this year.
Gambling disorders vs. gambling problems
Those who cannot resist the urge to gamble have a gambling disorder, according to definitions provided by Psychology Today. If a person has exhibited at least four of the following behaviors in the past year, then the condition is categorizable as an addiction:
- Needing to gamble progressively larger amounts of money to feel the same or more excitement
- Having made many unsuccessful attempts to cut back or quit gambling
- Feeling restless or irritable when trying to cut back or quit gambling
- Preoccupation or excessive thoughts (e.g., previous gambling experiences, planning the next gambling venture, ways to get money to gamble with again)
- Gambling increases, and may even occur to escape problems/feeling distressed (feeling helpless or guilty), or feelings of sadness or anxiety are present
- Gambling larger amounts of money to try to recoup previous losses (chasing previous gambling losses)
- Lying about the amount of time or money spent gambling
- Losing a job, relationship, or educational or career opportunity due to gambling
- Relies on others to borrow money to get by due to gambling losses, especially when financial situations become desperate due to involvement in gambling
If you believe you or someone you know is struggling with gambling or has a gambling addiction, we recommend heading to 800gambler.org to read through their resources. They also have a help line: 1-800-GAMBLER.