There weren’t as many calls for help last year from from problem gamblers in Wisconsin.
The number of calls to a statewide, 24/7 helpline for compulsive gamblers totaled 13,935 in 2013; that’s around 500 fewer than the previous year — or about 4 percent. Executive Director of the Wisconsin Council on Problem Gambling Rose Gruber isn’t worried. “No, I don’t think there really is any significance. We’ve seen our numbers staying fairly steady over the last several years. So, you know, next year we might be up a little bit again. It really is varying.”
By the time the call is made to the helpline, Gruber says the impact of the gambling addiction has typically been felt by many others, including the gambler’s family, friends, co-workers and his or her employer. “They usually have gotten themselves in a lot of financial trouble. Their families may have deserted them or have gotten very upset with them. They may be suicidal. They’re usually hitting bottom when they call us.”
Gruber says the helpline also gets calls from many concerned friends and family members who see a problem and are seeking information. “But what can happen when a family member calls is at least they’ve better educated themselves. Hopefully after they’ve called us they have a better understanding of the addiction itself,” Gruber says, therefore when their loved one decides they need help, they may be more supportive” because they know what’s going on with the addiction.
The annual Helpline Report shows how devastating a gambling addiction can be for individuals and families in Wisconsin, as indicated by the number of calls involving bankruptcy, threats of suicide, and illegal activity, such as writing bad checks.
The Wisconsin Council on Problem Gambling operates the 24/7 helpline as a resource for anyone facing a gambling problem. The helpline is 1-800-GAMBLE-5