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OPINION

ESSAY: How to avoid problem gambling-related issues

The Chronicle Express

The holidays can be a great time to connect with family and friends. There’s a reason why many dub this as the most wonderful time of the year. However, anticipation and preparations for the holidays can bring stress. Some individuals may choose to gamble to cope with stress. Increased gambling activity as a coping strategy can lead to gambling problems. Additionally, these unprecedented times can prompt more gambling at home due to increase in isolation. Here are some ways to avoid gambling-related issues:

-- Know what activities are gambling.

Gambling activities include the state lottery, slot machines, online gambling websites, betting on sporting events, betting on card games, or any other activity where someone can win or lose valued items, like money.

-- Develop a budget and stick to it.

Decide how much you can afford to spend. If you overspend, turn your finances over to a trusted friend or family member, ending the opportunity to overspend. You can also set spending limits on your credit cards and bank accounts. Consumer Credit Counseling Services of Rochester is a free resource to help you budget your money: https://www.cccsofrochester.org/

-- Before attending events, decide if they are safe.

If friends and family gather for sporting events or card games, visit before or after these games occur. Talk to loved ones about what could trigger you. Triggers can include gambling visuals, language and auditory stimulation.

-- Remain mindful when giving gifts.

Avoid gifting gambling-related items such as lottery tickets, especially to youth. About 39.5% of youth have gambled at least once in the past year (OASAS, 2014-2015). Underage gambling can spark gambling addiction later in life. Additionally, these gifts could cause someone struggling with gambling to have increased gambling-related problems.

If you or a loved one is struggling with a gambling-related issue, the Finger Lakes Problem Gambling Resource Center (FL-PGRC) is here to help. Call us at (585) 351-2262 or email FingerLakesPGRC@nyproblemgambling.org.

We wish you and yours a happy and healthy holiday season!

This essay was presented by the Finger Lakes Problem Gambling Resource Center.