As state governments look for new funding sources, the expansion of legal gambling has grown in popularity.
Arizona is no exception to that, as recent legislation authorizes new forms of regulated gaming at off-track betting sites, sports stadiums and tribal casinos. How soon it will happen and what exactly that will look like are both up in the air. Yet, there is a sense of inevitability to there being some level of expansion soon.
As that happens, it’s crucial that both players and the companies offering the gaming understand how important it is to gamble responsibly. Compulsive gambling issues are nothing that anyone should ignore or even treat lightly. All parties in this industry need to make allowances for the prevention and treatment of such issues.
In this guide, we’ll lay out what that entails and the responsibilities involved with gambling while detailing the resources available for both people with compulsive gambling issues and those who love them.
The definition of the term should be pretty self-explanatory. Simply put, responsible gambling means to gamble and offer gaming in ways that limit the harm done to vulnerable individuals as much as possible.
This not only includes people with compulsive gambling issues but also minors and other individuals who for a myriad of reasons are incapable of making wise decisions at the time. Examples of that could include people under the influence of controlled substances and those with developmental disabilities.
The responsibilities for this lie on all sides of the physical and virtual tables. Here are a few tips for gamblers, however, to play responsibly:
Many people can have a great time gambling and it never becomes an issue for them. That doesn’t mean they are better than people who develop compulsive gambling issues, though.
Also, there’s no such thing as a person who is immune to developing such a problem. The important thing, for yourself and others, is recognizing the signs of compulsive gambling. A short definition of problem gambling is gambling that interferes with a person’s ability to succeed in other areas of life.
A quick list of possible warning signs include:
One of the primary places to start looking for resources for people affected by problem gambling is the Arizona Department of Gaming’s Division of Problem Gambling. Arizona residents pay for these services with their tax dollars, so it’s free to access all of the resources.
In addition to the information on the website, Arizonans can call (800) 639-8783 or text “NEXT-STEP” to 53342. The Department also provides presentations for other groups on the subject.
The National Council on Problem Gambling maintains a list of assets for Arizonans with compulsive gambling issues. That includes where you can find counseling and support in your part of the state. The NCPG also has a helpline, available via text or call at (800) 522-4700. To boot, the NCPG offers a 24-hour, live webchat function.
Another primary source of aid is the Arizona Council on Compulsive Gambling. This organization maintains a helpline at (800) 777-7207, or you can email them at [email protected] Support groups are available nationwide both in-person and in virtual forums through Gamblers Anonymous.
If you don’t have a gambling problem yourself but find yourself affected by someone in your life who does, the same support is available for you through Gam-Anon. People in either category can also access GamTalk, a moderated virtual peer forum.
Perhaps the most common and effective way to combat compulsive gambling is by individuals restricting themselves from being able to gamble.
Arizona provides for this with a voluntary self-exclusion program. The program is essentially a list of people who have opted in. The state distributes it to all licensed gaming establishments within its borders. People who are on the list are not allowed on the premises and gambling companies may not disperse marketing materials to anyone on the list.
The most important thing to note here is that enrollment in the program is voluntary and is done on an individual basis. No matter how serious another person’s need for help with gambling is, you cannot register another person for the program. Additionally, no government body can compel a person to enter the program.
People do have some choices when it comes to participation, though. That includes the term of self-exclusion, which in Arizona includes:
A person can renew or switch between any of those terms after expiration, but there is no way to remove yourself from the list before the selected term expires. The best way to register is by using the fillable web form. You will need to complete the form, have it notarized, then send it along with an original color photograph clearly showing your head and shoulders no smaller than 2″ by 3″ to:
Arizona Department of Gaming
1100 W Washington St Ste 450
Phoenix, AZ 85007
Alternatively, you may email a JPEG picture file that fits the same parameters to [email protected] The department will need a completed and notarized physical copy of the enrollment form, however. You should still print out the completed form and mail it after you get it notarized even if you send your image via email.
One of the greatest tragedies in the lives of people with compulsive gambling issues is when they refuse to acknowledge their problems and don’t take advantage of the resources that are not only widely available and effective but also accessible at no cost.
At the same time, one of the greatest signs of individual strength is that acknowledgment and accessing those resources.
The counselors available through these programs supported by gambling companies and the state are highly qualified. Additionally, responsible gambling is good for casinos and other gambling licensees. No one wins when gambling destroys lives.
As Benjamin Franklin is attributed with coining, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Taking simple steps like budgeting and playing with your head instead of getting caught up in the moment can go a long way toward not developing a problem with gambling in the first place.
An easy-to-remember phrase: When gambling stops being fun, you’re done.