It’s that time of year again: the weather’s finally starting to cool down in Florida (or is it?), pumpkin spice lattes are in season, and the trick-or-treating is about to begin. Whether or not you’ll be putting on a costume or watching horror movies, Halloween is a serious event for many Floridians. From converted garage haunted houses to office costume parties, theme park special events, and movie marathons, the last day in October thrills millions each year.
If you’re a sports fan, you’re also getting your fill at the end of October with the MLB World Series, the beginning of the NBA and NCAA basketball seasons, and the midpoint for the NFL and NCAA Football seasons. How is your Fantasy team performing so far?
But beneath all of the fun and games lies a real terror…and the scariest thing about sports betting…
Gambling Addiction: The Monster Lurking in the Shadows
While the majority of people can gamble safely as a form of recreation, hundreds of thousands of Floridians suffer from gambling addiction or are at risk. For these individuals who are unable to control their gambling activity, the addiction is a threat that lies behind every opportunity to bet.
Even though starting a betting pool for this week’s games may seem like innocent fun, you may never know when someone who suffers from the hidden addiction is in your company. Problem gambling is known as the hidden addiction because unlike substance abuse, it lacks physical symptoms. Prevailing stigma also works to suppress those who suffer from gambling addiction from disclosing their inability to maintain control, many times until it is too late.
Inviting and especially pressuring anyone to gamble risks starting someone who is vulnerable down the path towards problem gambling and creates the potential for a relapse to someone who is in recovery. Sports betting is not lawful in the Sunshine State, which is just one more reason to keep the focus on the game – don’t bet on it!
Gambling addiction can wreak havoc on nearly every aspect of one’s life. Callers to Florida’s 888-ADMIT-IT Problem Gambling HelpLine report financial devastation, loss of their closest relationships up to and including divorce, career problems, committing a range of crimes to continue funding their addiction, the onset of anxiety and depression, and even suicidal ideation and attempts. Not to mention, every case of problem gambling affects 8-10 additional people, beyond the gambler.
Though gambling addiction is scarier than any fictional monster, it is treatable, and help and hope are available. If you or someone you know may be struggling with controlling their gambling, call Florida’s 24/7, Confidential, and Multilingual Problem Gambling HelpLine at 888-ADMIT-IT (236-4848). You can also text the HelpLine at 321-978-0555, email firstname.lastname@example.org, and start a live chat at gamblinghelp.org.