For updates regarding COVID-19 and the affected services and programs, please click here.

Problem Gambling & Gaming

Gambling is often referred to as the “hidden” or “silent” addictionThe National Council on Problem Gambling defines Problem Gambling as “all gambling behavior patterns that compromise, disrupt or damage personal, family or vocational pursuits. The essential features are increasing preoccupation with gambling, a need to bet more money more frequently, restlessness or irritability when attempting to stop, “chasing” losses, and loss of control manifested by continuation of the gambling behavior in spite of mounting, serious, negative consequences.”

 

Gambling disorder is another term for problem gambling, which was previously known as compulsive gambling or pathological gambling. This issue was first recognized as an ‘Impulse Control Disorder’ by the American Psychiatric Association in 1980 as a result of the pioneering work of Robert Custer M.D.


The Holiday Lottery CampaignLottery Tickets Aren't Child's Play

The Holiday Lottery Campaign began in 2007 and raises awareness about the risks of youth gambling and educates communities on the dangers of buying lottery tickets for children.

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Covid-19 & Problem Gambling

Individuals struggling with problem gambling may be more vulnerable to social isolation and financial instability during the pandemic.


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What is a Gaming Disorder?

The World Health Organization defines Gaming Disorder as “a pattern of gaming behavior (“digital-gaming” or “video-gaming”) characterized by impaired control over gaming, increasing priority given to gaming over other activities to the extent that gaming takes precedence over other interests and daily activities, and continuation or escalation of gaming despite the occurrence of negative consequences.”

Teens and Technology

Online gaming, use of social media and gambling have the same effect on the brain as drugs and alcohol. Teens, as digital natives, are the most voracious consumers of technology and because their brains are still young and malleable, teens are more vulnerable to the negative impacts than adults. In order to support and assist youth in responsible use of technology, it is imperative that parents and professionals understand the brain mechanisms that make gaming and social media so seductive to youth.


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March is National Problem Gambling Awareness Month

Gambling Awareness Campaign

Find out how COCA draws awareness to problem gambling in March

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March Madness

Learn about the link between March Madness and gambling

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Need Help for a Gambling or Gaming Problem?

Call 1-800 GAMBLER (426-2537) or visit the PA Council website.

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Think you may have a problem with gambling?

Take this anonymous assessment from Gambler's Anonymous. Questions are provided to help an individual decide if they are a compulsive gambler and motivated to stop gambling.


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Frequently Asked Questions

Is Gambling Disorder recognized by the medical community?

Yes. Gambling Disorder is now classified in the “Addiction and Related Disorders” category in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, fifth edition, published by the American Psychiatric Association. This disorder is identified as a persistent and recurrent problematic gambling behavior that has lead to clinically significant impairment or distress.

Is problem gambling rare?

Approximately 2 million (1%) of U.S. adults are estimated to meet criteria for pathological gambling, another 4-6 million (2-3%) would be considered problem gamblers, according to statistics provided by the National Council on Problem Gambling. It may seem less common because, for many, gambling remains a hidden addiction.

What is the Lottery Holiday Campaign?

The Lottery Holiday Campaign encourages parents and loved ones not to give lottery products as holiday gifts to minors. Research shows that the majority of adolescents gamble at least occasionally, and that lottery products be a gateway to problem gambling. Youth gambling has been shown to be linked to other risk-taking and addictive behaviors such as smoking, drinking and drug use.

What is the Pennsylvania Self-Exclusion Program?

The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board sponsors the Self-Exclusion Program designed to allow a person to request to be banned from all legalized gaming activities and to be prohibited from collecting any winnings, recovering any losses or accepting complimentary gifts or services or any other thing of value at any licensed facility. Self-exclusion only applies to the gaming floor of the licensed gaming facilities in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

What help is available for someone struggling with gambling?

Mutual support groups are available for those who are ready to make a change. In Berks, Gamblers Anonymous meetings are available. Click the link below to learn more and find a meeting near you.

Gamblers Anonymous (GA)

GAMBLERS ANONYMOUS is a fellowship of men and women who share their experience, strength and hope with each other that they may solve their common problem and help others to recover from a gambling problem.

At what point does gaming become a disorder?

In order for gaming behavior to be characterized as a disorder, it must “result in significant impairment in personal, family, social, educational, occupational or other important areas of functioning…for at least 12 months.”