Casual gaming or gambling problem? How to spot the difference

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CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WTRF) – From the casino to your cell phone, it’s easier than ever before to gamble. 

You can place bets without even leaving your home, but the increased access could also mean a higher chance of a gambling problem. 

The 1-800-GAMBLER hotline usually sees a spike of calls in March. 

They say it could be because of sporting events like March Madness happening during the month. Or, it could be the increased attention during National Problem Gambling Awareness Month. Either way, they just want people to know, getting help is as easy as a phone call. 

Roughly 80% of people within six months are able to stop or really reduce their gambling after they’ve called us

Sheila Moran, Director of Marketing & Communication

In order to get help, you first have to recognize the problem. 

1-800-GAMBLER says look to see if you’ve broken the rules of responsible gambling like setting money and time limits and sticking to them, never gambling on credit, avoiding trying to win back lost money and treating the money you lose like the cost of entertainment.

Meaning the way you would go to a movie and understand that you’re not getting that money back,  but you spent it to be entertained, that’s what you gotta think of with gambling, not as an investment plan.

Sheila Moran, Director of Marketing & Communication

If someone is borrowing money from friends and family that could also signal a problem. 

Most people won’t say ‘I need money so I can gamble’. They might say ‘I need money to pay my rent, pay my bills’.

It’s not just the money, it’s the time.

 Even if you aren’t losing enough to have financial struggles, gambling can take over your life.

With betting only a swipe away, mobile apps add to the problem. 

People are just constantly getting a a ding in their pocket that says, ‘invest here’ or ‘gamble on this’ or ‘here’s the odds on this’ and so it really becomes just a complete obsession for some people.

Sheila Moran, Director of Marketing & Communication

Moran said the first step is not being afraid to call for help. You won’t be sent to an answering machine, you’ll get a real person in West Virginia. 

We’re gonna talk with you and see how we can help you. We’re gonna link you with a free private counselor in your area.

Sheila Moran, Director of Marketing & Communication

At least one in 50 West Virginians struggle with gambling and the hotline receives between 500 and 1,00 calls a year. There are also support groups and events for people to know they’re not alone. 

People have have felt like they’ve been taken over by the type of gambling they’re doing, especially if it’s on an electronic device, and so our counselors really work with them closely on just getting different habits, different ways of thinking.

Sheila Moran, Director of Marketing & Communication

If you think you or someone you know has a gambling problem, call 1-800-GAMBLER or you can visit

There you can also chat online with experts.  Both these services are available 24/7.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.


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