It is not always easy to spot the signs of problem gambling addiction – even in those closest to you.

Problem gambling, an urge to continuously gamble despite harmful negative consequences or desire to stop, continues to plague Louisiana. As many as 280,000 Louisiana adults may be involved in problem gambling, according to a 2016 study conducted by the Louisiana Department of Health’s Office of Behavioral Health.

In tandem with National Problem Gambling Awareness Month, Gov. John Bel Edwards has proclaimed March 2020 as Problem Gambling Awareness Month in Louisiana. The month-long observance promotes awareness of the resources available to those experiencing problems associated with gambling.

Data compiled by the Office of Behavioral Health shows gambling spans all ages, genders and races in Louisiana.

  • An estimated 5.4% of Louisiana’s adult population is at risk for addiction.
  • About 2.9% of Louisiana adults are pathological gamblers.
  • Louisiana’s Problem Gambling Helpline received 21,807 callers last fiscal year.
  • Calls to the toll-free Problem Gamblers Helpline show 56% of callers are men and 44% are women.
  • Most of the callers identified themselves as either Caucasian (50%) or African American (43%).
  • Financial problems overwhelmingly are the events that spark the helpline calls, followed by marital or family problems and mental health problems.

“Problem gambling is a serious addiction that thousands of Louisianans are struggling with, but they and their loved ones don’t have to go through it alone. Services like Louisiana’s Problem Gamblers Helpline, counseling and treatment programs are provided by the Louisiana Department of Health’s Office of Behavioral Health at no cost to our residents,” said Stephen Russo, interim secretary of the Department of Health. “Problem Gambling Awareness Month gives us an important opportunity to highlight these resources to anyone affected by problem gambling and urge them to seek assistance.”

Signs of a gambling problem include:

  • Lying to loved ones about gambling activity
  • Deterioration of work performance
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Missing deadlines and important responsibilities
  • Worrying about mounting debts and inability to pay them

“Gambling becomes an issue when it negatively impacts any area of the person’s life,” said Karen Stubbs, assistant secretary of the Office of Behavioral Health. “It’s an emotional problem with serious financial consequences that can damage relationships. The Office of Behavioral Health is here to assist at no cost to the residents of Louisiana.”

Louisiana offers multiple resources to support gamblers and their families, with no costs to state residents. Counseling and treatment programs are available including the country’s premiere residential treatment facility, The Center of Recovery (CORE), located in Shreveport.  Also, outpatient treatment is available statewide in your area. 

If you or a loved one is struggling with problem gambling, hope and help is available anytime. Call or text the Louisiana Problem Gamblers Helpline toll free at 1-877-770-STOP (7867) or chat live at www.helpforgambling.org. For additional information and resources on problem gambling, visit ldh.la.gov/AddictionRecovery.