illion to help serve people currently in treatment and those waiting for treatment.
Forms of gambling
While the lights, food and action are all big draws at the casinos, experts say instant gratification really sucks in gamblers.
"The No. 1 trigger is an early win in a slot machine experience,” Harwell said.
Part of the typical gambling impairment is that gamblers significantly overestimate winnings compared to what they spend, he said. The average ratio is six dollars lost to one dollar won, he said.
If the gambler is $1,000 or $1,200 ahead, many will go home, he said. But problem gamblers will continue until they’ve lost.
The slot machines are the primary form of play among those Oklahomans who seek his group’s help, Harwell said.
But gambling can be anything involving chance. Internet gambling by young people is now leading to more pleas for help from parents and friends, said Armisha Harrison, the coordinator of problem and compulsive gambling for the state Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services Department.
Other gambling forms may be the daily stock trader or the guys gathering for regular poker games or grandma’s club queuing up for bingo on Friday nights, she said.
‘Recovery is possible’
The state reaches out to problem or pathological gamblers in various ways, including a help line, marketing, a Web site and contracts with nine providers who offer services such as specialized gambling addiction treatment.
Help line calls have increased significantly since July and have climbed from about 40 per month to about 100 per month, according to the Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services. Financial, family and health issues prompt most of them to call, data show.
Harrison said the additional calls are both good news and bad news.
"Gambling is an addiction,” Harrison said. "But recovery is possible.”
Problem & Compulsive Gambling Addiction