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For Some in IL, Gambling is an Addiction

PHOTO: While the vast majority of people gamble responsibly, experts say 2 to 3 percent of the population has a gambling addiction. Photo credit: M. Kuhlman.
PHOTO: While the vast majority of people gamble responsibly, experts say 2 to 3 percent of the population has a gambling addiction. Photo credit: M. Kuhlman.
March 28, 2014

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – A spin of the roulette wheel or a throw of the dice at the craps table can be a good time for many Illinoisans who enjoy gambling now and then.

But it can lead others down the wrong path.

According to the Illinois Council on Problem Gambling, 2 to 3 percent of the population struggles with gambling too much, too often.

Spokesman Bill Johnson says gambling can have a devastating impact on some people’s lives, as well as their loved ones.

"Once the gambler crosses that line and it becomes an addiction, we see divorce, we see bankruptcies, we see people lose their homes, we see children suffering because they don't have resources to continue the lifestyle that they're used to," he explains.

Signs that could indicate a gambling addiction include using income or savings to gamble while letting bills go unpaid, repeated unsuccessful attempts to stop and feelings of depression or suicide over gambling losses.

This is National Problem Gambling Awareness Month when Johnson says his organization redoubles its efforts to ensure all Illinoisans know there are resources and programs aimed at curbing gambling addictions.

Johnson says the more public awareness of problem gambling, the better chance to reach those who are struggling with it.

He adds sharing their stories with others can help people with recovery, and is possible through programs like Gamblers Anonymous.

"You don't have to pay any fee,” he stresses. “You go and it's made up of other problem gamblers helping each other to do some things to address the issue and the compulsion to gamble.

“And it's support for people as they go through the process until they arrest their compulsion."

The Illinois Gaming Board also has a statewide voluntary self-exclusion program.

Johnson explains any person on the list who attempts to enter any casino will be arrested for trespassing.


Mary Kuhlman, Public News Service - IL