As college students search the Internet each day, it is likely they will come across gambling sites. For some, the temptation is so great that they have to click on the sites to play. From coast to coast, thousands of students compete online for scholarship money in qualifying rounds of a national poker tournament. Internet gambling is a growing concern due to the accessibility, since most people can use it any time, anywhere. It is also illegal in the United States, but is permitted to operate in numerous other nations. Most of the websites operate out of the Caribbean or Latin America, but are accessible anywhere in the world. An estimated 5.5 percent of college-aged population has a gambling problem.
According to Lauren Parrizi of Loyola University, “Most students are in debt on average about $10,000 worth. With tuitions increases, decreasing grant money and minimum wage jobs, gambling as a path out of debt, or a bit of pocket money, seems attractive.” However, it is an addiction that has risky affects.
If you are concerned about your gambling, or that of someone you know, the following warning signs may help clarify your concerns: An inability to stop once you start gambling; Setting ‘loss limits’ for the day and then routinely exceeding the limits; borrowing money to pay gambling debts; lying to friends and/or family about gambling frequency, or the extent of losses; neglecting other responsibilities such as school due to a preoccupation with gambling; constant self worry about your gambling; consistently feeling the need for the “gambling rush.”
Robert L. Custer, M.D. identified the progression of gambling addiction in three phases. The first phase is the winning phase; gamblers experience a big win or a series of wins, which leaves them optimistic that their winning will continue. This leads them to feel great excitement and than begin to increase the amounts of their bets. The second phase is the losing phase where the gambler often begins bragging about wins they have had, then starts gambling alone and thinking more about gambling. They also begin borrowing money legally or illegally. Lastly, the third phase is desperation phase. This is accompanied by remorse, blaming others and alienation of family and friends.
A recent issue has occurred with a student at one of Pennsylvania’s Universities. Greg Hogan, a Lehigh University student, got involved with gambling. Greg Hogan’s addiction to gambling and about a $5,000 gambling debt led this Class of 2008 president to rob a Wachovia Bank. Hogan started accumulating the debt a little more than a year ago when he began gambling heavily at online poker sites as a way to relieve the stress of his busy life.
The first step in getting help is recognizing that you or someone you care about has a problem with gambling. The next step is to call The Pennsylvania Compulsive Gambling Hotline. The Hotline is an information and referral service for people with gambling problems, or who are concerned about someone who is gambling. This number is 1-800-848-1880. Gamblers Anonymous International Directory Pennsylvania (Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday) Philadelphia Hotline Number: (215) 468-1991. Some local meetings are held at East Goshen G.A. United Church of Christ Route 352 & Greenhill Road. Havertown G.A. Havertown United Church of Christ 100 Myrtle Avenue. Chester G.A. Keystone Center 21st & Providence Avenue. Visit www.gamblersanonymous.org/mtgdirPA.html for more information.
For help with this problem in this area, call the Philadelphia Hotline: (215) 468-1991