Signs of Problem Gambling

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Approximately 333,000 Wisconsin residents are problem gamblers. Not only does problem gambling shatter the lives of men, women and their families, it results in economic loss to American society.

"It is called the hidden addiction since there is no breath odor nor stumbling of steps or speech," said Rose Blozinski, WCPG Executive Director. "It can be as debilitating as an alcohol or drug addiction. Awareness is an important part of heading off problems before they get too far." Blozinski says the problem gambler may become obsessed or overpowered by the urge to gamble.

"As a state advocate for problem gamblers and their families, the WCPG encourages everyone to know the signs of problem gambling. WCPG is neutral on legalized gambling," said Blozinski.

Signs of a gambling problem:

  • Gambling made you careless of the welfare of yourself or your family
  • Borrowing money to gamble
  • Preoccupied with thoughts of gambling
  • Missing work due to gambling
  • Gambling causes trouble at home
  • Sold personal belongings to finance your gambling
  • Gambled longer than planned
  • Committed illegal act to finance your gambling

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Strategic Planning

Thursday, June 21, 2018

The WCPG Board of Directors and staff will be going through a strategic planning process on June 22 with the help of Mike Stone from the Kentucky Council on Problem Gambling.  The last planning session was done in 2008 with follow-up sessions in 2009.  We are looking forward to this opportunity to see what we have accomplished and set new updated goals for the future.  One of the goals we want to accomplish through the planning session is to make sure the mission of the council continues to meet our goals and also to clarify what our goals are.  We look forward to setting goals for the future of the WCPG which will best help us serve people who are affected by gambling disorders in the state of Wisconsin.

-Rose Blozinski, Executive Director

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WCPG Outreach

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 gambling.


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 gambling.


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

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Life is good now!

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!  D.

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Help For Problem Gamblers

Monday, August 21, 2017


Help For Problem Gamblers

Cornerstone Counseling Services, Inc.
The Wisconsin Council on Problem Gambling Board of Directors

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 mental health.

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 finances.

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 mood stabilizers.

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,

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

Chat Line:

1-920-888-HELP or 1-920-888-4357

Office: (920) 437-8888

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Happy Sping

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 continues to increase. We recently implemented our text line. People can text for help at 920-888-HELP (4357).

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WCPG Outreach Program

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

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WCPG Partnering with Concordia University WI with offering the WCPG’s Gambling Disorder Training Program/Course

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.

Training dates:

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)

Download Brochure


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Riding the Riptide of Change through Gambling and Co-Occurring Disorders

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 and attendees.

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

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WCPG Outreach Program

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 or

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