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Working Moms and Disordered Gambling

Help is Just a Phone Call Away

With the new forms of gambling in our communities and on our phones and computers, a lot of new gamblers (including women) are coming into the market. 

Someone new to gambling might not visit a casino or race track, but small video-gaming parlors we drive by daily seem a little more approachable for newcomers. 

Convenience is another factor. Video slots and poker can be played at convenience stores, fraternal organizations or restaurants.  

Then, there's always the lottery, available at gas stations, grocery stores, convenience stores and online. Our constant tethering to our devices enables sneaking in a quick online casino game, slots, or sports wager while passing time or seeking ways to de-stress. 

Whatever the game-of-choice, this isn't necessarily a bad thing if we realize that all forms of gambling carry some risk. There are safer ways to play, but these strategies aren't always intuitive. What seems to make sense on the surface isn't always the case. 

Here's a timeless example from 1913 at a Monte Carlo casino. After the spinning roulette ball landed on black a few times in a row, more players came to the table. With every successive spin, the ball again settled on black, as more bettors joined the throng. Bets were placed, the wheel spun, the ball landed on black (again!) and more money changed hands. Every time the ball landed on black, players were increasingly convinced the next spin would be red. The ball landed on black 27 times in a row. Millions of dollars were lost.

Although it seemed the next result should have been red, roulette outcomes are never based on the previous result. Like flipping a coin, a roulette ball has a 50/50 chance of landing on black every time it is spun, regardless of black or red the turn before. 

The Monte Carlo example shows how gamblers can play more frequently or intensely than planned, without some "basic training" on safer, responsible gambling strategies. For some, what starts as an infrequent form of recreation becomes problematic. Finances, relationships, jobs, mental health, even physical health can be affected. 

Recently women have narrowed the gender gap, developing gambling disorder at a rate similar to men. Further, there appears to be what is called a "telescoping affect"—women tend to start gambling later in life, but can progress to disordered gambling much quicker than men. What can take years to develop for men can take months in women. 

This is why it's even more important for women who might begin or recently began gambling to learn more about responsible gambling strategies, signs and other risk factors for disordered gambling, and to seek help quickly if needed. 

The good news: lots of help is available. With free workshops to any interested group, free consultations for anyone concerned about their (or a loved one's) gambling and free counseling for those who want to make some changes, there is something to meet every need. 

individual or group counseling can include family members to support the goals of the person seeking help. Counseling allows people to examine their gambling, choose how to proceed, and receive support. 

A recent Nicasa group session included a painting party where group members watched a painting tutorial together and created beautiful canvases, while connecting through shared experience. 

During COVID, all sessions are available by phone or video conference, making it easier than ever to get convenient, confidential help. Some health insurance plans cover services. We can look into that for you. For those without applicable insurance, we can offer services at no cost to you. 

Help is just a confidential phone call away.

About the Author: Elizabeth Thielen is a problem gambling counselor, overseeing gambling services at Nicasa Behavioral Health Services (Nicasa.org). Free workshops available for mahjong/bridge groups or service clubs. A counselor can talk over the phone about your gambling, or that of a loved one. Just email gamblingservices@nicasa.org, or call 847.546.6450 and follow prompts for the Gambling Services Team.

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