Resource raises gambling awareness
The National Center for Responsible Gaming has launched a website, www.CollegeGambling.org, to help address issues surrounding gambling and gambling-related harms among college students and universities nationwide.
According to the NCRG, 75 percent of college students gambled during the past year, whether legally or illegally, on or off campus alike; it is a growing concern.
CollegeGambling.org helps bring together the latest research to educate students on responsible gambling practices and provide awareness of this resource to help schools and their students address this important issue in the way that best fits each school’s needs.
“CollegeGambling.org appears to be a beneficial resource for college campuses, college health professionals, students and parents,” said Kay Brumbaugh and Christine Henry from Counseling and Psychological Services at UH in an email interview. “It may provide a safe start for students who are questioning their current gambling patterns and would like to gather further information about their concerns.”
The website provides guidance on treatment.
“College gambling is a concern that can be easily overlooked. Typically, individuals are not mandated to treatment for gambling, unlike alcohol or illicit drug use, so they frequently do not seek treatment or are unaware it’s even a problem. In addition, students may be unaware of the different types of gambling as being a potential to develop into a problem,” Brumbaugh and Henry said. “As gambling becomes increasingly accessible to students, so should awareness of potential risks.”
Gambling can stem from many different reasons.
“Individuals may choose to start gambling for a number of reasons: social lifestyles, family upbringing, needing an escape from responsibilities, procrastination, attempts to gain financially or past trauma,” Brumbaugh and Henry said.
Gambling can have harmful affects on student academics, finances and interpersonal relationships, and is easily overlooked and may result from other mental health problems such as bipolar disorder, major depressive disorder, or other addictive disorders.
“While the vast majority of those old enough to legally gamble can do so responsibly, the most recent research estimates that 6 percent of college students in the US have a serious gambling problem that can result in psychological difficulties, unmanageable debt and failing grades,” said Brumbaugh and Henry.
“Frequently, gambling is already an established part of the individual’s social life supported within their family, and/or social organizations,” said Brumbaugh and Henry. “When this is the case, recognizing gambling as a problem can be challenging.”
CAPS cannot definitively say to what degree UH students are affected by gambling, but can point out events that would encourage gambling.
“Although it is unclear about the level of gambling among UH students, nationally online gambling has become increasingly accessible which in turn leads to escalations in college gambling,” said Brumbaugh and Henry. “Moreover, the location of the University of Houston also provides opportunities for individuals to easily travel to casinos in Louisiana.”
Friends and family sometimes find difficulty in knowing if the gambling issue of a loved one is a problem.
“Gambling may be considered a ‘problem’ when an individual starts to utilize gambling as a means to escape, rather than for pure entertainment purposes,” Brumbaugh and Henry said. “Typically, gambling will interfere with academic, work and/or interpersonal relationships.”
Gambling can be problematic when it interferes with day-to-day activities, therefore friends and family should look out for certain signs.
“An individual may have failed attempts to reduce his/her gambling, resulting in feelings of irritability and restlessness,” Brumbaugh and Henry said. “Additional money is often needed to reach a desired excitement level and a considerable amount of time is spent in attempts to break even.”
At times, gambling can be accompanied by illegal activity.
“Illegal involvement is not uncommon and an important warning that a problem has developed; an individual may engage in theft, fraud or embezzlement to contribute towards maintaining the funds needed for gambling,” Brumbaugh and Henry said.
CAPS offer a variety of services to help students with gambling concerns such as individual counseling, couples counseling and group counseling, as well as Food for Thought workshops.
UH students may receive up to 10 individual or couples sessions every academic year, beginning with the Fall 2011 semester, and are limited to a lifetime total of 40 individual or couples sessions while enrolled at UH.
There is no fee for groups and they do not count against the lifetime total number of sessions.
Food for Thought Workshops are noon to 1 p.m. each Wednesday in the Student Service Center 1 Building, Conference Room 210A.
For additional information on the effects of gambling on students’ lives and for a list of all services provided by CAPS on gambling-related harms, visit www.caps.uh.edu and click on the services tab.
To make an appointment, call (713) 743-5454.