Problem Gambling Requests for Help Continue to Increase During Florida's Economic Slump

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While people across the state report difficulty coping with budgeting as gas and food prices continue to rise, there continues to be an increase in the number of citizens seeking help, information, and resource referrals for a gambling problem. The Florida Council on Compulsive Gambling (FCCG) received over 4,200 requests to its 24-Hour, Toll Free Problem Gambling HelpLine, 888-ADMIT-IT and website, representing a 12% increase in contacts in the past year, following a 25% increase in contacts from the year before.

Compulsive gambling is a serious issue that not only affects the gambler, but also their family, community and state. It is an expensive addiction and often results in financial devastation

While people across the state report difficulty coping with budgeting as gas and food prices continue to rise, there continues to be an increase in the number of citizens seeking help, information, and resource referrals for a gambling problem. The Florida Council on Compulsive Gambling (FCCG) received over 4,200 requests to its 24-Hour, Toll Free Problem Gambling HelpLine, 888-ADMIT-IT and website, representing a 12% increase in contacts in the past year, following a 25% increase in contacts from the year before.

According to Pat Fowler, Executive Director, "Managing debt is difficult for the average person. A gambling addiction wreaks havoc on ones financial well being. Compulsive gamblers tend to view their gambling problem as purely a financial one, and ironically, continue to turn to betting to try to dig themselves out of it."

Callers reported average debt owed due to problem gambling was over $37,000 with 15% of callers owing more than $90,000. 13% are unemployed (up from 8% last year) with another 5% disabled and/or on workers compensation. 11% report having filed bankruptcy at least once as a result of their gambling.

It is not uncommon for compulsive gamblers to owe money to multiple sources as a result of their gambling. This years callers reported higher levels of credit card debt (66%, up 11% from last year) as well as defaulted mortgage payments (63%), delinquent car payments, utilities, and child support. "Compulsive gambling is a serious issue that not only affects the gambler, but also their family, community and state. It is an expensive addiction and often results in financial devastation", explained Fowler.

Fowler also pointed out that, "An estimated 750,000 Floridians experience serious to severe gambling problems during their lifetime and the HelpLine only reaches a small percentage of those in need of help." As gambling continues to expand, and government and others look to the gaming industry as a way to increase revenue, the number of persons experiencing problems associated with gambling will also continue to increase. The need has never been greater for prevention, intervention and treatment services to assist those who are trying to regain control of their lives and to minimize the economic impact caused to individuals, families and communities.

Gambling addiction is a treatable disorder when assistance is sought and accessible.

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