Tuesday, November 14, 2017
My name is Sara Hungerford and I am the
Outreach Coordinator for the Wisconsin Council on Problem Gambling.
I wanted to take a moment to introduce myself and to give you some
information regarding our program and what we can offer to health
teachers in the state.
According to research, adolescents ages
12-19 are a high-risk group to becoming problem gamblers. If a
student entered the classroom under the influence of drugs or
alcohol, you would likely be able to know something was wrong. If a
student just lost a bet, you would likely have no idea. That's the
power of a hidden addiction.
Approximately 4-5% of youth, ages 12-17,
meet one or more criteria of having a gambling problem. Another
10-14% are at risk of developing an addiction, which means that
they already show signs of losing control over their gambling
behavior. Studies also show that 78% of problem gamblers
contemplate suicide and 65% commit crimes to finance their
Even though the majority of students will
not become problem gamblers, knowing the warning signs will help
them make good choices and provide support to friends and family as
they enter their teen and adult years. Young people like to take
risks and are vulnerable to peer pressure. They tend to
overestimate the short-term payoff and dismiss the long-term
consequences. These are dangerous behaviors as it relates to
Today, those who work with youth have an
opportunity to look for the presence of problem gambling behaviors
in students with whom they work. You are in a direct position to
detect adolescents in the early stages of difficulty and refer
students to resources that can help. One of the challenges will be
identifying the warning signs.
The Wisconsin Council on Problem Gambling
would like to offer your school, classroom, or parent organization
a presentation on gambling disorders, absolutely free, with no
strings attached. Our presentations are interactive and
educational; they can be tailored to meet the needs/demographics of
any audience. For additional information or to schedule a date,
please call 920-437-8888 or email
Monday, September 11, 2017
Recovery: Life is good now!
Thinking back to when I was actively gambling, I don't know how
I existed. I was so out of control, causing family and financial
issues. After 16 years of recovery, I am a better person today. If
I ever have an urge to gamble, all I have to do is think about how
awful my life was 16 years ago. Life is good now!
Monday, August 21, 2017
Help For Problem
Jim Harrison BS, MS, LPC,
CSAC, ICGC-II, BACC
Cornerstone Counseling Services, Inc.
The Wisconsin Council on Problem Gambling Board
Ever since the beginning of time, gambling has been a part of
our culture. It can be a form of fun, pleasure, and
entertainment. Gambling has also been the cause of grief,
pain, and devastation for many individuals as well as their
families and other significant people in their lives.
The objective of this article is to provide education,
awareness, and resources on social, problematic, and pathological
gambling issues, while maintaining complete neutrality on the issue
of legalized gambling. It does not take a stand on supporting
or condemning gambling or gambling related situations. It is
designed to help the family as well as the gambler to deal with
emotional, financial, and spiritual consequences of gambling in a
non-judgmental, non-condemning, and non-shaming manner.
According to Robert Custer and Harry Milt, in their book
When Luck Runs Out: Help for Compulsive Gamblers and Their
Families, there are approximately 6 categories of
gamblers. These include the following:
THE SOCIAL GAMBLER: This is an individual who
gambles occasionally. He or she only gambles for fun and
sticks to their limit. Their gambling has no negative effect
on their families, friends, work, or society in general.
Their gambling also has no negative effect on their own physical or
THE SERIOUS SOCIAL GAMBLER: This is an
individual who gambles regularly. To them, gambling is a
hobby or avocation. Like a social gambler, they usually do
not spend more time or money than they can afford. They also
usually stick to their limits. There may or may not be
concerns about their gambling by others, but it normally has no
negative effect on themselves or other significant people or
activities in their lives.
THE PROFESSIONAL GAMBLER: To this individual,
gambling is a profession and way of life. It is his or her
way of earning a living. To them, gambling is a business, not
for fun. It is very rare to encounter a professional gambler
in a counseling situation.
THE PROBLEM GAMBLER: This individual is
beginning to have problems as a result of their gambling.
These problems may be related to finances, relationships, work,
school, or other significant facets of their lives.
THE PATHOLOGICAL OR COMPULSIVE GAMBLER: This
individual has substantial life problems related to their
gambling. There usually are major financial, relationship,
work, and social problems. Often there are also legal issues
as a result of their behavior.
THE BUNGLER: This is an unofficial
category. This individual is sometimes called the "stupid"
gambler. They usually play games of skill relying on luck
rather than logic and reasoning, i.e. places a stupid bet on
favorite colors, numbers, or names. The bungler may or may
not have problems related to their gambling.
Of these categories, there are two main types of gamblers;
action gamblers and escape
gamblers. Action gamblers games of choice require
skill, i.e. sports betting, table games, etc. Escape gamblers
choose gaming that requires little if any skill, i.e. slot
machines, bingo, lottery, etc.
Compulsive gambling has certain features in common with other
addictive behaviors. In fact, many problem gamblers also have
co-occurring substance abuse problems, specifically alcohol
abuse. Other common co-occurring problems may include
depression and/or Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD). Problem
gamblers may also have an elevated risk for suicidal thoughts and
behaviors. Like other addictions, there tends to be an
increase in the frequency, intensity, and harm associated with the
behavior over time for problem gamblers. The problem gambler
may be in the early stages of questioning whether he or she has
developed a problem, while others around them are more convinced
that is the case.
There are many treatment modalities and interventions that have
been shown to be effective for problem gambling. Behavioral
approaches include steps such as:
Self-banning: This allows the individual to ban
or prevent themselves from entering a casino. This is a
contract the individual makes with all state casinos. If one
does enter a casino, they could be arrested for trespassing.
Harm reduction: The individual would attempt to
set a money limit, not bring a debit card with them, limit the
number of times they gamble in a week, month, etc., or not go alone
if they do gamble.
Money management: The individual limits access
to money by having someone they trust manage and control their
Other therapy modalities include:
Support groups: By attending Gamblers Anonymous
(GA), 12-Step meetings, or other support groups, problem gamblers
meet and interact with others who have similar issues and receive
support in making changes.
Cognitive-behavioral therapy: In this therapy,
individuals explore distorted gambling-related beliefs, warning
signs and triggers of a relapse, and learn to substitute more
effective strategies to cope with negative feelings such as
anxiety, depression, boredom, and restlessness.
Medications: Because problematic gambling
relates to a cycle of negative mood/tension followed by compulsive
gambling behaviors as an attempt to resolve or "self-medicate"
those negative emotions, proper pharmacological treatments have
been shown to help some problem gamblers. Some of these
medications may include opiate antagonists, antidepressants, and
As with any other disorder, there is no "cookie cutter" answer
to success. However, success is possible. If you or a loved
one believes that gambling has developed into a problem, consider
completing an assessment with a qualified professional.
Jim Harrison MS, LPC, CSAC, ICGC-II, BACC is an International
Certified Gambling Counselor, Level 2 and Board Approved Clinical
Consultant. He can be reached at Cornerstone Counseling
Services, 10850 West Park Place, Suite 100, Milwaukee, Wisconsin,
53224, 262-789-1191, Extension 191, email@example.com.
You can also contact:
The Wisconsin Council on Problem Gambling, Inc.
1585 Allouez Ave
Green Bay, WI 54311
1-800-GAMBLE-5 or 1-800-426-2535
1-920-888-HELP or 1-920-888-4357
Office: (920) 437-8888
Wednesday, April 12, 2017
March was a busy month for the WCPG. March was Problem
Gambling Awareness Month. During March, we tried to raise awareness
in a variety of ways. We sent posters, bookmarks and letters to all
of the libraries in the state of Wisconsin. This was a good way to
bring awareness about gambling disorders to a variety of
people. Many libraries requested additional bookmarks which
was our hope. We also sent out press releases about
PGAM. Additionally, we tried to increase awareness of
gambling disorders through Facebook, twitter, and linked in.
As March comes to a close and PGAM finishes it is important for us
to remember that gambling disorders can be a problem every day of
the year. So please remember to be aware that someone you know or
work with may have a gambling problem and may be dealing with the
serious consequences of that disorder daily. WCPG provides
education, awareness and resources, 365 days a year.
Our 18th Annual Problem Gambling Awareness Conference
was held on March 23-24, 2017 at the Osthoff Resort in Elkhart
Lake. There were 120 participants at this year's conference.
Some of the topics covered were Internet Gambling and Fantasy
Sports, Generational Differences, Motivational Interviewing,
Ethics, Groups for Problem Gamblers, Process Addictions and many
more. Next year's 19th annual conference will be held on
March 15-16, 2018 at the Milwaukee Marriot West. Mark your
calendars to join us.
During the month of March, we presented to several High Schools
in Wisconsin. The school programming provides education about
gambling disorders. We talk about the risks involved in
gambling and the warning signs. As we know, many teens use gambling
as the "gateway" activity, thus leading to more risky behavior.
Social gambling can quickly move to problem gambling. A gambling
disorder is just as serious as a drug addiction. Our hope is that
by reaching out to adolescents, we can prevent some of the negative
statistics associated with gambling disorders.
The 24-hour Helpline continues to receive an average of 1200
calls a month. In addition, the number of contacts through our chat
line is available on our website at wi-problemgamblers.org
continues to increase. We recently implemented our text line.
People can text for help at 920-888-HELP (4357).
Tuesday, November 1, 2016
Hello from the WCPG's Outreach Coordinator!
This fall has been very busy for the outreach program. In the
month of October, we presented to 5 schools which included almost
900 students! November 2016 is on track to be our busiest month
EVER; expecting to reach almost 1,100 students!
You might be wondering, "Why do students really need to learn
about problem gambling? Aren't they too young to participate?" Over
the past 2 years, I have asked students in the classrooms I visit,
"how many of you have placed a bet?" The majority of students
report participation in some type of gambling. The most common
forms of gambling reported are lottery tickets, raffles, poker,
fantasy sports, and personal wagers. Our youth ARE gambling.
We teach our teenagers and young adults about the risks
associated with drugs and alcohol, but often, we do not think about
educating them about the risk of problem gambling. Left untreated
the end result of any addiction can lead to prison, insanity, or
death. This can be true of alcohol, drugs, AND gambling.
The Wisconsin Council on Problem Gambling offers classroom
presentations FREE to schools in Wisconsin. These presentations can
be tailored to fit the specific needs of your classroom.
Presentations are interactive and FUN! If you have questions about
our programming options, or would like to schedule a presentation
for your classroom, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Thursday, August 18, 2016
The Wisconsin Council on Problem Gambling (WCPG) is pleased to
be partnering with Concordia University Wisconsin with offering the
WCPG's Gambling Disorder Training Program/Course. Concordia
University Wisconsin will be offering professional development
credit as an option (1 credit available for phases 1 & 2 and 1
credit available for phases 3 & 4). CUW Counseling students,
faculty, and alumni may attend free of charge!
The trainer for the Mequon program is Doug LaBelle, LCSW, CEAT,
CAI, NCGC-II, Resources for Change, Lake Bluff, IL and Kenosha, WI.
Doug LaBelle is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker in Illinois and
Wisconsin with over 29 years of experience working with individuals
and families impacted by chemical and process addictions, a
National Certified Gambling Counselor II, a trainer with the
Wisconsin Council on Problem Gambling, a Certified ARISE
Interventionist and an ARISE Senior Trainer with Linking Human
Systems. Currently in full-time private practice, Resources for
Change, LTD., in Lake Bluff, Illinois and Kenosha, Wisconsin as a
psychotherapist, EAP Consultant and Interventionist.
The WCPG has applied for Continuing Education Units for 15 hours
each phase with the following: Wisconsin Association for Marriage
and Family Therapy, NASW, EACC, National Gambling Counselor
Certification Board, and the WI Department of Safety and
Professional Services. Certificate of attendance will be provided
by the Wisconsin Council on Problem Gambling, Inc.
October 20-21, 2016 (Phase 1)
November 10-11, 2016 (Phase 2)
January 19-20, 2017 (Phase 3)
February 9-10, 2017 (Phase 4)
Concordia University Wisconsin
12800 N. Lake Shore Drive
Mequon, WI 53097
Luptak Terrace Room (AL 114)
Monday, March 28, 2016
The WCPG recently held its 17th annual statewide
gambling awareness conference "Riding the Riptide of Change through
Gambling and Co-Occurring Disorders". 135 participants had the
opportunity to earn up to 21 CEU's during the pre-conference and
the two-day conference. Fifteen presenters provided workshops
on a variety of topics including: Gambling Addiction treatment and
Financial Capability, Ethics, Supervision, Therapeutic Gambling
Treatment in the Criminal Justice System, Problem Gambling and
domestic abuse, Mindfulness and addiction as well as many
others. It was a great networking opportunity for presenters
At the Annual Awards Banquet, four awards were given to people
who have gone above and beyond in helping problem gamblers in the
state of Wisconsin and helping the Council fulfill its mission of
providing resources for anyone affected by gambling disorders. We
look forward to presenting the 18th Annual Conference on
March 23-24, 2017 at the Osthoff Resort in Elkhart Lake. We hope
you can join us.
Rose Gruber, Executive Director
Thursday, March 17, 2016
The WCPG Outreach Program has been traveling all across the
state this school year. During the 2015-16 school year we have
reached over 4,000 students and 1,100 educators already!
Students enjoy learning about gambling and problem gambling.
Through games and group activities, youth are able to learn the
warning signs and resources available for those struggling with
problem gambling and gambling disorders. Students have the
opportunity to create
artwork that is featured regularly on the WCPG website.
We hear often from educators that problem gambling is not
something they find in their students' textbooks. Gambling Disorder
is recognized by the American Psychiatric Association as an
addiction. It is categorized the same as alcohol and drugs.
Education about gambling disorders is an easy fit into most
existing AODA/AOTA curriculums.
To request a speaker for your school or classroom, please fill
out our speaker request form or contact us directly at 920-437-8888
Wednesday, February 10, 2016
The Seventeenth Annaul Wisconsin Council on Problem Gambling
Statewide Conference is underway. The presenters are picked,
the brochure is out and registrations are coming in. The name of
this years conference is "Riding the Riptide of Change Through
Gambling and Co-Occurring Disorders", You can earn up to 21.25 CEUs
at the conference. This includes a 4 hour Ethics training and a 6
hour Clinical Supervision Track. There will be special
entertainment following the Awards Banquest. For more information,
conference tab on our website or call us at 920-437-8888..
Wednesday, October 21, 2015
By Andrea Rathsack
Adolescents ages 12-19 are a high-risk group for developing
gambling problems. It is often very difficult to discover. Because
they are not legally old enough to gamble, and there are no visible
signs as there are for other addictions, youth gambling can go
unnoticed. While the majority of students will not become problem
gamblers, knowing about gambling disorder and the warning signs
will help them make good choices and provide support to friends and
family as they enter their later teen and adult years, including
The WCPG offers schools, classrooms, and parent organizations
presentations on problem gambling, absolutely free. Presentations
are interactive and educational.
Between September 2014 and September 2015, the WCPG has reached
over 1360 youth through classroom presentations and youth
These presentations have been well received by both educators
and students with many comments like the following, "I really
enjoyed the presentation, I learned a lot of things about gambling
and addiction. I think it really put into perspective how easy it
can be together addicted to gambling. It definitely makes me want
to be cautious for when I begin to be old enough to start gambling
for fun (which is not that far away). Now that I know it's an
actual disorder, I will take it more seriously."
Through the end of the year, WCPG is scheduled to reach an
additional 1130 students through classroom presentations. That
number continues to rise as new requests are received each week.
Please help spread the word that presentations are available
statewide! Contact Andrea for more information: