Keep a lookout, seek help for gambling issues

Friday, March 18, 2016

Gov. Pete Ricketts is helping throw the spotlight on a disease the government helps facilitate.

While the state lottery generates millions of dollars for worthwhile programs, the fact some of those dollars go toward treating a disease it helps create should be a clue.

"Everybody needs to be aware of the risks posed by gambling to our families and our household budgets," Ricketts said during a ceremony proclaiming March as National Problem Gambling Awareness Month in Nebraska.

Ricketts said he is asking all Nebraskans to learn about problem gambling disorders and the harm they cause and to reach out to the Nebraska Gamblers Assistance Program.

As many as 28,000 Nebraskans may suffer a problem gambling disorder, and as many as 200,000 adult Nebraskans may be at risk of developing a gambling problem, according to David Geier, director of the Nebraska Gamblers Assistance Program.

Research has shown that for every $1 of tax revenue generated by gambling, taxpayers end up spending $3 in social welfare programing, the criminal justice system and infrastructure among other expenses.

To be sure, gambling problems would exist regardless of legalization in Nebraska, especially since it's legal in neighboring states. That's especially true during the NCAA College Basketball Tournament, when there's no problem finding a bet.

It's one thing betting a soda or a meal, but another when it starts causing problems.

According to Geier, the warning signs include: betting more han you can afford to lose; gambling more to win back the money you lost; borrowing money or selling something to gamble; other people saying you have a gambling problem; feeling guilty about gambling or feeling you need to bet with higher amounts of money to get the same feeling of excitement.

If you, a friend or family member might have a problem, visit the Gamblers Assistance Program website at www.problemgambling.nebraska.gov, call (402) 471-4450 or, in the event of an emergency, the Nebraska Gamblers Assistance Help Line at (800) 522-4700.

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