March is state Problem Gambling Awareness Month

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March is state Problem Gambling Awareness Month
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March is Problem Gambling Awareness Month in Illinois. 

Whether it’s betting on sports, scratching cards, roulette, poker, the slots, the casino, the corner bar, or just opening up the laptop, gambling is hard to avoid, said Patrick Laughlin, deputy director of communications for the Illinois Department of Human Services.

During March Madness, more young men under 30 are picking up the gambling habit, he said.  

“You can’t watch a sporting event without having the odds pop up. The commentators even talk about what they are betting,” Laughlin told The Center Square. 

The proliferation of video gaming machines has made gambling more convenient than ever. Illinois now has 10,000 video gaming terminals in restaurants and other outlets across the state, Laughlin said. People who would never get in their car to go to a casino or a racetrack can now gamble when they are out for a hamburger.

Most people lose a little money and go on with their lives, he said. But for up to 4% of the population – thousands of Illinoisans – gambling can become an obsession that ruins their lives.

The goal of the Council on Problem Gambling is to help people find their way out of misery, Laughlin said. No matter how much you lose, they can help you find recovery.

In the past two years, Illinois has trained 245 clinicians to provide gambling disorder treatment services.

Recovery support services are free. You don’t have to give your name to call the hotline and talk to someone. Call 1-800-GAMBLER or text: "ILGAMB" to 53342. Illinois has an online gambling chatline atWe Know The Feeling(

Some problem gambling warning signs: Has gambling stopped being fun? Are you borrowing money to gamble? Are you chasing your losses? If you are lying about how much money you are betting or how much money you are losing, talk to someone, Laughlin said. 

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