Problem Gambling is a Public Health Concern in Iowa

A lot of us may not realize that problem gambling is a public health concern that continues to rise in Iowa. We may not realize that someone we love and care about may be struggling with it.  Problem gambling is often called the“hidden addiction” because it is so easily disguised from family and friends…until it isn’t. 

Iowans have many gambling options to choose from including 19 casinos licensed by the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission, 4 tribal casinos, 2,400 lottery outlets, and over 2,700 licensed social, charitable, and amusement games. Now gambling can be with us 24/7 with access to a broad range of social media and smartphone gambling-like games and applications, as well as an expanding number of internet-based and other illegal gaming (IDPH Office of Problem Gambling Treatment and Prevention Fact Sheet).

March is problem gambling awareness month and we all need to take a moment to increase our knowledge of problem gambling including recognizing signs along with the availability of prevention efforts happening through local coalitions and where treatment and recovery services are located. The campaign this year is also focusing on encouraging healthcare providers to screen clients for problem gambling (National Council on Problem Gambling).

You are not alone. Gambling can go from fun to out of control quickly. In fact, in any given year, about 14% of adult Iowans will experience a problem related to their gambling. Getting help is one of the best things a person experiencing problems related to gambling can do for relationships, work, and all other aspects of their life. That’s why it’s so important to recognize the warning signs and know the resources that are available. (Your Life Iowa).

Be #1 at Getting Help is a campaign that Helping Services for Youth and Families is rolling out to create awareness of this public health concern and educate on 1-800-BETSOFF as a resource where someone can get free, confidential support. We also offer Responsible Gambling in the Workplace toolkits to address any concerns agencies/businesses may have. 
To get help with a gambling problem for you or a loved one, call/text/chat with Your Life Iowa support at www.yourlifeiowa.org. These services are free of charge and confidential. You can also contact your local problem gambling treatment provider, Northeast Iowa Behavioral Health, by calling (563) 382-3649.

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