CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WTRF) – It’s in every state. It’s happening to people you know.
Problem gambling doesn’t look the same as the stereotypes. It’s not just a person who spends hours in a casino, because gaming is readily available on our phones at any time.
A recent study puts the Mountain State high on the list for gambling addiction, but getting help is just as easy as placing a bet.
Your friend, your neighbor, your mother, it’s someone that you don’t suspect that. You have no idea that they’re so caught up in problem gambling.Sheila Moran, Director of Communications & Marketing, First Choice Services
It’s more than just buying a lottery ticket or placing a few sports bets. Problem gambling can be devastating.
Remember West Virginia was one of the first states to have legalized video poker machines in neighborhood bars and restaurants. Also one of the first to legalize fantasy sports and one of the first to legalize sports betting.Sheila Moran, Director of Communications & Marketing, First Choice Services
A new study from WalletHub says West Virginia is the 9th most gambling-addicted state.
Sheila Moran from First Choice Services, which runs the Mountain State’s 1-800-GAMBLER hotline, explained the state used to be higher on that list. Now, others across the country are catching up to the availability here.
The sates around us have continued to add gambling, so they’ve caught up with us so to speak.Sheila Moran, Director of Communications & Marketing, First Choice Services
There’s one ranking on WalletHub’s study that Moran doesn’t agree with. That’s raking West Virginia 30th in problem gambling and treatment. She said WalletHub never reached out to the hotline when doing their research.
Had they reached out, we would of told them we have a really robust treatment program here. Frankly, more so than many other states.Sheila Moran, Director of Communications & Marketing, First Choice Services
Moran explains that treatment is easily available all across the state.
There’s the I-800-GAMBLER hotline, support groups and so much more.
We have a lot of other types of treatment available. We have weekend events. We have online availability of wellness calls. We have online support group meetings.Sheila Moran, Director of Communications & Marketing, First Choice Services
She also told 7News that First Choice Services plans to reach out to the authors of the WalletHub study to look at the methodology behind their numbers.
The types of calls that the hotline receives are changing. Moran said it’s shifted more to sports betting and mobile and online casinos. However, the top form of gambling in West Virginia is still video poker machines.
So, how do you know if you have a problem? 1-800-GAMBLER has an online quiz to start. They’ll also outline the rules of responsible gambling you should follow. If you break those, you may want to seek their services.
If you find that you’re gambling and you’re setting limits for yourself and you’re constantly breaking those limits, spending more time or more money than you promised your loved ones that you would, that’s a good indicator that you need help.Sheila Moran, Director of Communications & Marketing, First Choice Services
Remember, you don’t have to wait until you’ve lost it all to reach out.
When people call 1-800-GAMBLER they’re able to relatively quickly get in with a trained counselor in our network and we’re able to pay for their treatment.
Once people call us and they start treatment, about 80% of them are able to stop or really reduce their gambling within six months.Sheila Moran, Director of Communications & Marketing, First Choice Services
If you or someone you know needs help with problem gambling, call I-800-GAMBLER any time of day. You can also visit 1800gambler.net.
In case you were wondering, Ohio was ranked 30th most gambling-addicted on WalletHub’s study.
The number one state across all categories was Nevada.