On the one-year anniversary since the COVID-19 pandemic hit the U.S, we can reflect on how this new way of life has affected the issue of problem gambling. The one thing that has remained constant throughout this period has been our commitment to serving Florida by providing hope and help for those affected by gambling addiction through the 888-ADMIT-IT HelpLine. Our HelpLine has remained open 24/7, providing support to thousands of contacts who are being affected by problem gambling, including gamblers, their loved ones, and others. March is Problem Gambling Awareness Month, and our theme this year is a reflection of the challenges and opportunities created by the pandemic — Shine the Light on Problem Gambling: Changing the Game.
Many Florida residents, like many Americans, are struggling given the unforeseen consequences resulting from the pandemic. For disordered gamblers  and their families, the effects of the virus can exacerbate already serious financial, psychological, legal, and other problems caused by gambling. 888-ADMIT-IT HelpLine data has revealed significant impacts on those suffering from gambling addiction as a result of the pandemic, including shifts in gambling behaviors resulting from land-based gambling operation closures and sporting event cancellations during this past year, coupled with a general increase in life stressors for the population at large.
The FCCG’s 2019-2020 Annual HelpLine Outcome Evaluation report identified that a recent CDC Report suggested that another trend being reported anecdotally, though not well understood or measured, is that casino gamblers are apt to be younger, on average, now than prior to the pandemic. This is surmised as older gamblers appear to be less willing to be in public places. The CDC indicated that although there is no quantitative evidence, the trend has been reported in several jurisdictions. 
In August of 2020, it was announced that the COVID-19 pandemic and mandatory social distancing measures caused video game spending in the United States to skyrocket to new heights through the second quarter. According to a new report from market analysts with the NPD Group, revenues reached $11.6 billion between April and June 2020, a 30% jump year-over-year. Many have used these games as a means of keeping one “preoccupied” and/or for staying in touch with family and friends. As gaming and gambling have expanded, there is concern that the structural boundaries between gaming and gambling may have become blurred. Some have further argued that the overlap between gambling and gaming have become indistinguishable such that “hybrid gambling activities have adopted features of gaming and vice-versa”.
Offering consistent support has been our primary objective throughout this period of uncertainty, heightened tension, shifting trends, generational shifts, and evolving forms of gambling. Though recognized in March for PGAM, shining the light on problem gambling is a year-round goal to get those in need connected to help and hope for recovering from problem gambling. Our 24/7, Confidential and Multilingual Problem Gambling HelpLine may be reached by calling 888-ADMIT-IT (888-236-4848), texting (321) 978-0555, emailing email@example.com, initiating a live chat at gamblinghelp.org, or by reaching out to us on social media platforms, such as Facebook and Twitter.
Follow and share PGAM on social media using hashtags #PGAM and #PGAM2021! Learn more at problemgamblingawarenessmonth.org.
 Disordered gambling is classified by the American Psychiatric Associa6on as a behavioral addic6on and involves repeated problema6c gambling behavior that causes significant problems or distress. It is also called gambling addic6on or compulsive gambling. (APA, 2020).
 24-Hour Problem Gambling HelpLine Annual Report., 2020 ed., The Florida Council on Compulsive Gambling, Inc., 2020, 24-Hour Problem Gambling HelpLine Annual Report.
 To view the report in full, visit, The Path Forward for Casinos in a Post COVID World: How Younger Gamblers, Experiences, and Safety Concerns Will Influence Industry Recovery, Retrieved August 10, 2020, https://synergyblue.us/wp-content/uploads/2020/05/SynergyBlue_Post-COVID-report.FINAL_.pdf