Gambling Helpline Prepares for ‘Super Bowl Monday’

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Florida Council on Compulsive Gambling says the 2011 Super Bowl will lead to a spike in HelpLine calls and an increased need for treatment

“The numbers are very concerning to us,” said Pat Fowler, Executive Director of the FCCG. “We know that many sports bettors view the Super Bowl as their last chance to make up for the losses they have incurred throughout the year, but this unrealistic thi

With the Super Bowl just a few days away, recovering compulsive gambler Uberto Mondolfi knows all too well the impact this single sporting event can have.

Now a psychotherapist who treats problem gamblers on behalf of the Florida Council on Compulsive Gambling, Mondolfi knows that for many Floridians, the Super Bowl is more than an innocent annual sports tradition marked by game-watching parties and friendly wagers. For compulsive sports bettors, the Super Bowl can be one of the lowest times of the year – a time when their debt and desperation escalate to a point of crisis.

"As counselors, we call it ‘Super Bowl Monday," said Mondolfi, 42, a recovering compulsive stock trader who now works with clients in Miami who are referred through the FCCG’s 24-Hour Helpline. “It can be the worst day for problem gamblers and the last hope for digging out of their gambling debt. For some of these callers, their Super Bowl loss can bring them to a point of being suicidal.”

According to statistics from calls to the FCCG HelpLine, 83 percent of gamblers are affected by depression and 81 percent are experiencing anxiety. Suicidal ideations and/or attempts were confirmed in 11 percent of those who called. It is estimated that 1 out of every 5 pathological gamblers will attempt suicide..

In the past five years, calls to the FCCG’s 24-hour HelpLine have doubled in January and February leading up to and immediately following the Super Bowl. FCCG leaders expect the same pattern for this year’s Super Bowl. They are urging Floridians to help raise awareness about the resources available through the FCCG, its HelpLine, and its affiliated counselors like Mondolfi.

More bets are placed on the Super Bowl each year than any other sporting event of the year. Last year, over $5 billion was wagered on the Super Bowl. In Florida, sports betting is a growing problem.

Over the past year:

  • Almost 60% of the sports bettors had resorted to selling or pawning assets in order to obtain money to gamble.
  • Family conflict over gambling was prevalent in 89% of the households.
  • More than half (53%) of the sports bettors were having difficulty at work due to their gambling.
  • Half (50%) of the sports bettors had committed illegal acts to finance their gambling. Acts reported included fraud, larceny, embezzlement, booking and other.
  • More than half (56%) placed bets with a bookie, and 29% utilized Internet sites to gamble on sporting events.

“The numbers are very concerning to us,” said Pat Fowler, Executive Director of the FCCG. “We know that many sports bettors view the Super Bowl as their last chance to make up for the losses they have incurred throughout the year, but this unrealistic thinking can have a devastating impact on them, their family, and their friends.”

Seventy-five percent(75 %) of HelpLine callers stated there was family conflict due to gambling; Three percent (3%) reported family violence. Spouses of problem gamblers are also affected by stress related problems and depression.

“Compulsive gambling directly affects innocent family members and the surrounding community,” Fowler said. “That’s why we are urging Floridians to join us in raising awareness during one of the most difficult times for problem gamblers.

For Mondolfi, his recovery began more than seven years ago, when his sister directed him to resources and help in Miami.

“I was so relieved because finally, there was someone there for me who understood,” he said. “The work that the FCCG is doing is so important, because it means there is always someone to call for help.”

The FCCG HelpLine, 1-888-ADMIT-IT, is available 24 hours a day to help both compulsive gamblers, their families and friends.The HelpLine offers resources and assistance from trained Specialists. If you or someone you know has a gambling problem, help is available at 1-888-ADMIT-IT, or http://www.gamblinghelp.org.

The Florida Council on Compulsive Gambling is a not-for-profit 501(c)(3) organization that provides
information, resource referrals, and support services for problem gamblers, their families, employers and others. We also offer prevention and education programs, as well as professional training for mental health, addiction and medical practitioners, gambling operators, governments, businesses, academia, law enforcement authorities, faith based organizations, and others.

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