The signs of problem gambling may be right in front of you without you even realizing it — 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.

Gov. John Bel Edwards has proclaimed March 2021 as Problem Gambling Awareness Month in Louisiana, coinciding with National Problem Gambling Awareness Month. 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 17,251 callers last fiscal year. 
  • Calls to the toll-free Problem Gamblers Helpline show 59% of callers are men and 41% are women.
  • Most of the callers identified themselves as either Caucasian (47%) or African American (44%).

Financial problems overwhelmingly are the events that spark the helpline calls, followed by marital or family problems and mental health problems.

“There is so much at stake when problem gambling becomes more than just a game. It's not worth the loss of a relationship with a loved one, a job or maybe even your home,” said Dr. Courtney N. Phillips, Secretary of the Department of Health. “With the Problem Gamblers Helpline, counseling and treatment programs, the Office of Behavioral Health is ready to provide assistance and help you take that first step on the path to recovery."

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

“Problem gambling affects more than just your wallet. If you have a problem, it can damage your relationships, endanger your job and have other consequences,” said Karen Stubbs, Assistant Secretary of the Office of Behavioral Health. “It doesn’t have to be Problem Gambling Awareness Month to reach out for help. 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 are 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.