You probably haven’t run into the word “ludomania” while playing Wordle.
Too many letters.
It means “problem gambling.”
And Missouri problem gambling takes the spotlight this month as March is Problem Gambling Awareness Month.
This is a national event recognized by the Missouri Alliance to Curb Problem Gambling.
The National Council for Problem Gambling chooses “Awareness + Action” as this year’s theme for the annual campaign. The goals of the campaign are:
- Increase public awareness of problem gambling and the availability of prevention, treatment, & recovery services.
- Encourage healthcare providers to screen clients for problem gambling.
Problem gambling has been called a silent addiction.
What is problem gambling?
As Alan M. Feldman, Distinguished Fellow on Responsible Gaming, University of Nevada, Las Vegas, said:
“One does not become a problem gambler immediately…It happens over time.”
Medical books have recognized pathological gambling as an addictive disorder since 1980.
As an example, according to a 2021 article published in the peer-reviewed open-access scientific journal The International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, “Problem gambling is a gambling disorder often described as continued gambling in the face of increasing losses.”
Problem gamblers “feel better when they gamble,” the study explains. And the DSM-5, published by the American Psychiatric Association, classifies problem gambling as a highly addictive disorder.
When in practice, gambling activates the brain’s reward mechanisms. When activated, these mechanisms respond similarly to substance addiction.
- About 1% of Americans (approximately two million adults) meet the criteria for problem gambling, according to the NCPG.
- Another 2-3% (four to six million adults) meet the criteria for mild or moderate problem gambling.
- And less than 1% of Missourians who gamble show signs of problem gambling.
These statistics are substantial, coming from the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services 2016 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance Survey.
An Alliance formed to curb Missouri problem gambling
The Missouri Alliance to Curb Problem Gambling is comprised of the Missouri Gaming Association, Missouri Gaming Commission, Missouri Lottery, Missouri Department of Mental Health, and the Port Authority of Kansas City.
Since its founding in 1997, the Alliance has sought to stem Missouri problem gambling through education and prevention of underage play. Additionally, they provide referrals to free treatment via a confidential toll-free helpline (1–888–BETSOFF). Finally, they highly promote responsible gaming.
While the activity has been legalized in all but 18 states, sports betting currently remains illegal in Missouri.
However, attempts at legislation are in play. Whether its possible passage will influence the importance of available help remains to be seen.
The Missouri Lottery lists some signs of problem gambling on its website:
- Visiting one Lottery vendor multiple times in one day
- Visiting multiple Lottery vendors in one day
- Borrowing money to gamble
- Preoccupation with gambling
- Gambling to escape worry or problems
- “Chasing” losses
- Hiding losses from friends and family
- Neglecting important responsibilities
- Irritability when trying to stop
- A need to bet more money more frequently
- And finally, A loss of control
The Missouri Department of Mental Health is responsible for general health and/or addiction services in the state. There are numerous resources on the website to assist however you need.
People may add themselves to the Missouri Lottery’s and Gaming Commission’s voluntary self-exclusion lists for problem gamblers.