As we honor the history, traditions, and progress of all Black Americans during Black History Month, we must also recognize the challenges, including problem gambling. Problem gambling has many effects on an individual’s life, including but not limited to financial, relational, mental, and physical impacts. Consequences exist, such as elevated rates of anxiety, mood, and substance use disorders, as well as personality disorders, which were found among black and white problem or “pathological gamblers” (now classified by the American Psychiatric Association as “disordered gamblers”). Differences in the patterns of co-occurring disorders between syndromal (those who exhibit symptoms to be classified with a gambling disorder), and particularly subsyndromal levels (those who show some symptoms but not sufficient to be diagnosed with a gambling disorder), and any mood disorder, hypomania, and any substance-related disorder gambling, in black and white respondents indicate the importance of considering race-related factors in mental health prevention and treatment strategies .
Recognizing the challenges that problem gambling poses to the black community is necessary to prevent gambling addiction. Not only does problem gambling not discriminate by race, ethnicity, socioeconomic or educational status, it affects Floridians of all ages, from seniors to youth. In fact, results of a large national representative study found that Black Americans had twice the rate (2.2%) of disordered gambling compared to their White American counterparts, and lower scores on general health measures . Similar findings were also reported for Black youth, who were significantly more likely than White youth to engage in heavy gambling . Overall, being young, male, and non-Hispanic Black is associated with high rates of gambling disorder in the U.S. National Comorbidity Survey Replication (NCS-R) data . It further confirms the need to further explore ethnic differences among gamblers to better differentiate between the cause of disordered gambling and other risk factors that may variously predispose different ethnic groups to developing gambling problems .
To raise awareness about gambling impacts among Black Floridians and other minority populations, the FCCG conducts routine reviews of its HelpLine data to determine whether programs and services are adequately meeting the needs of the State’s diverse population. Per 2019-2020 888-ADMIT-IT HelpLine data, African Americans represented 22% of problem gamblers in the past year . More specifically, of the Florida HelpLine contacts received where the problem gambler was Black/African American, 55% were male and 45% were female. Further, in 79% of the cases, the gambler made direct contact and loved ones comprised the remaining 21%. Additional highlights follow .
Top 3 Precipitating Events (Primary Reason) for Contact by Gamblers and Loved Ones
|Family Members/Spouses/ Cohabitants
|Difficulty Paying Bills||18%||–|
Note: N refers to the total number of Males and Females who provided responses to questions. In some instances, loved ones do not know the gambler’s primary gambling problem or the difficulties experienced by the gambler.
Top 4 Primary Gambling Problems by Gender of Gambler
|Primary Gambling Problem||Males
Mental Health, Emotional and Domestic Problems by Gender of Gambler
Mental Health, Emotional and Domestic Problems
Anxiety (N=78/Male; N=70/Female)
Depression (N=73/Male; N=69/Female)
Family Conflict (N=79/Male; N=71/Female)
Family Neglect (N=78/Male; N=68/Female)
|Family Violence (N=70/Male; N=63/Female)||1%||
The good news is that help and hope can be found through the 24/7, Confidential, and Multilingual 888-ADMIT-IT HelpLine for ANYONE in need, including concerned loved ones. The HelpLine can also be reached by texting 321-978-0555, live chat at gamblinghelp.org, by email email@example.com, and messaging on social media. Get connected to the resources that make a difference, including referrals to certified treatment providers!
What can you do about it? Spreading the word about the 888-ADMIT-IT HelpLine can provide those closest to you with the help they so desperately need.
March is Problem Gambling Awareness Month
March is Problem Gambling Awareness Month (PGAM), a grassroots effort to raise awareness about gambling disorder, classified by the American Psychiatric Association as a behavioral addiction that impacts millions of Floridians who struggle with gambling-related difficulties or are adversely affected by a loved one’s gambling problem. This year, our campaign theme is Shine the Light on Problem Gambling: Changing the Game.
During this past year, the world has been forced to grapple with crippling impacts caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Florida residents, like many Americans, are struggling given the unforeseen consequences, and for disordered gamblers and their families, the effects of the virus can exacerbate already serious financial, psychological, legal, and other problems caused by gambling.
Click here to learn more about PGAM and join the movement in raising awareness about the issue of problem gambling and the help and hope available through the 24/7, Confidential, and Multilingual Problem Gambling HelpLine!
 Barry, DT, Stefanovics, EA, Desai, RA, and Potenza, MN (2011). Differences in the Associations between Gambling Problem Severity and Psychiatric Disorders among Black and White Adults: Findings from the National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions. The American Journal on Addictions.
 Alegria AA, Petry NM, Hasin DS, Liu SM, Grant BF, Blanco C (March 2009). Disordered gambling among racial and ethnic groups in the U.S.: results from the national epidemiologic survey on alcohol and related conditions, CNS Spectrums.
 Barnes GM, Welte JW, Hoffman JH, Tidwell MO (2009). Gambling, alcohol, and other substance use among youth in the United States. Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs.
 Kessler RC, Hwang I, LaBrie R, Petukhova M, Sampson NA, Winters KC, Shaffer HJ (2008). DSM-IV pathological gambling in the National Comorbidity Survey Replication. Psychological Medicine.
 Caler, KR, Vargas Garcia, JR, & Nower, L (2017). Problem gambling among ethnic minorities: results from an epidemiological study. Asian journal of gambling issues and public health.
 24-Hour Problem Gambling HelpLine Annual Report (2020 ed). The Florida Council on Compulsive Gambling, Inc.
 Compiled from FY 2019-2020 Florida Council on Compulsive Gambling 888-ADMIT-IT HelpLine data (2021). The Florida Council on Compulsive Gambling.