Big game can be big problem for gambling addicts

Monday, January 28, 2013

At last check, the Baltimore Ravens are picked to lose by 41⁄2-points to the San Francisco 49ers in Super Bowl XLVII.

For those with a gambling problem, however, the game is a guaranteed loss.

According to ESPN, last year's Super Bowl drew $10 billion in wagers worldwide, the vast majority of it, in the United States, at least, illegal.

According to Scot Adams, director of the Division of Behavioral Health in the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services, more than 55,000 Nebraskans meet the criteria for problem gambling in any given year.

"Problem gamblers may be preoccupied with gambling, bet more money than they can afford, lie about the money and time spent gambling, and often chase their losses," Adams said.

"If placing a bet becomes more important than sticking to reasonable limits, that's a sign of problem gambling," said Maya Chilese, program manager for the Division of Behavioral Health's Gamblers Assistance Program. "But help for problem gambling is available, and it works," she said. That includes crisis intervention, individual counseling, group therapy and family counseling. Help is often available at no cost for the gambler and his or her loved ones.

If you think you or a loved one has a gambling problem, confidential free support is available through the Gamblers Assistance Program's Problem Gambling Helpline, 1-800-GAMBLER (1-800-426-2537). More information about problem gambling, including low-risk playing tips, is available at PlayItSafe.ne.gov. The program is funded in part from the State Lottery and the Health Care Cash Fund.

If gambling's not a problem for your Super Bowl watching experience, perhaps that will leave you more resolve to deal with the real problem -- eating too many chips and dip during the big game!

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