March is problem gambling awareness month (PGAM), a grassroots organization in its 19th year. As with previous campaigns, the National Council on Problem Gambling (NCPG) helps raise awareness of the issue that impacts millions of people worldwide. Classified by the American Psychiatric Association as a behavioral addiction, this year’s theme focuses on Awareness and Action.
With COVID-19 impacting our day-to-day lives, how has the pandemic changed how people gamble and what is this year’s campaign doing to help those who need it the most?
- Figures show 23% of respondents are betting at the same frequency since March.
- An estimated six million Americans have some form of problem gambling behavior.
- October saw a 225% rise in first-time gamblers since March 2020.
March is Problem Gambling Awareness Month
With this year’s theme focused on Awareness and Action, the goals for this campaign are:
- To increase public awareness of gambling and the help available to those who need it.
- To encourage healthcare providers to screen patients for problem gambling.
With roughly 30 events across the US, groups will hold conferences, counselor training, health screening days, and other activities to boost public awareness of problem gambling.
Problem Gambling Awareness Events
You can find a list of events to check out this month. You can find a full list on the NCPG website. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, though, most of these activities are taking place online.
- 3/15/2021 – The Challenge of Addressing Problem Gambling in a Double Pandemic: COVID-19, Opioids, and Problem Gambling
- 3/16/2021 – Listen & Learn – A Story of Recovery
- 3/24-25/2021 – The Face of Disordered Gambling and Gaming in 2021
Gambling and COVID-19 Outbreak
As with many industries, the gambling industry was unable to continue unscathed during the coronavirus pandemic. Consequently, many casinos closed their doors for months on end. However, with the increase of online gambling, dedicated gamblers can still place a bet.
According to data from Statista, 47% of respondents in the US have been betting less due to the pandemic. This is due to social distancing measures that began in March 2020. A further five percent have been betting more often. Separate data shows that in October 2020, the US saw a 225% rise in first-time gamblers since March.
Despite this, Keith Whyte, executive director of the National Council on Problem Gambling (NCPG), said:
March Madness is a time of year when we see an increase in gambling and more demand for our services. Too many people still don’t recognize they are exhibiting signs of this addictive behavior and are unaware of the help that is available to them.
Responsible Online Gambling Best Practices
At OUSC, we want players to enjoy gambling while ensuring they do so responsibly. Online gambling should be fun and shouldn’t become something that gets above people’s heads. Here, we list five responsible gaming tips that online casino players must remember when they gamble.
Only gamble what you can afford to lose. Anything more, and you could find yourself spiraling out of control.
Set a Budget
Establishing a budgetis one of the most important things to do when gambling online. This can reduce losses and prevent gambling from becoming addictive.
Set Time Limits
You should always determine a time limit. By doing so, you keep track of your game time play and stay within your budget.
Keep it Fun
Gambling should be fun, so try and make sure it stays that way. Don’t try to make this into how you earn your living, as you’ll end up losing more than you can afford.
Maintain a Level HeadUnder no circumstances should you gamble when you’ve been drinking or if you’ve taken drugs. Don’t rely on gambling to avoid your problems, as it will just make them worse.
All In For Responsible Gambling
Problem gambling will continue to remain an issue in society unless there is more done to help those before it’s too late. While online gambling can be an enjoyable experience for many, for others, the pandemic may be the hole they spiral down.
Fortunately, there are ways in which to avoid this. By taking decisive action and taking advantage of the events happening this month around problem gambling, achievements can encourage a healthier way to gamble.