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Fighting Gambling Addiction in the United States

With the deregulation and decriminalization of many types of gambling in the United States, as well as the rise of internet gambling, games of chance are now more available and easier to find than ever before. While this does give responsible citizens a wonderful level of choice and accessibility, it has also led to a sharp increase in instances of gambling addiction in the US.

Gambling addiction is not like alcohol, nicotine, or drug addiction in that there are no physical symptoms, but the psychological addiction can be just as powerful, and equally as destructive. Since it is not a physical addiction, this malady is more commonly known as “problem gambling” or “compulsive gambling.”

Problem gamblers often cannot control their gambling, and do so compulsively. They become angry when they are not gambling, bet far more than they can afford just to keep playing, and never know when to stop. The consequences of this kind of gambling are not only financial, but can also take their toll on individual relationships, break up families, and even cause depression and suicide.

It is estimated that around 2 million Americans could be diagnosed as being fully addicted to gambling, with an additional 5 million showing signs of problem gambling. While a small segment of the population, this is still a huge figure.

While there are many non-profit organizations set up to fight problem gaming, the largest and most reputable US organization is the National Council on Problem Gambling. The NCPG does a number of things to help gambling addicts such as operate a telephone hotline, fund clinics, and find problem gamblers professional assistance.

The other thrust of the NCPG is education and prevention, lobbying gaming operators to provide more resources for problem gamblers, and especially using education to prevent children from engaging in and learning about gambling until they are of legal age.

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