Written by Michael Rouleau
Willimantic, Conn. -- Four students in the social work program at Eastern Connecticut State University have been given the task of raising awareness about problem gambling within the athletic community. While this is the sixth annual Gambling Awareness Semester the social work program has developed, this year's campaign is a bit different.
The target population includes coaches and athletes, both of whom are at-risk groups to develop a problem with gambling. The student group, along with their supervisor Thomas Broffman, professor of social work, will be trying to improve the education and training athletes and coaches receive about gambling.
The National Council on Problem Gambling has declared March as National Problem Gambling Awareness Month (NPGAM). Their affiliate, the Connecticut Council on Problem Gambling (CCPG), is again partnering with the Eastern Gambling Awareness group as it has done the past five years.
By partnering with the CCPG, Eastern's Gambling Awareness group hopes to bring attention to how athletic populations are at-risk of developing problem gambling. This population was chosen because athletes are prone to gambling due to their competitive nature, need for action and perception of social norms.
According to the National Council on Problem Gambling, 9 percent of athletes across 11 different sports reported that they wager on sports at least once per month; 67 percent of all college students bet on sports; and30 percent of male student athletes reported they have wagered on sports in the past year.
Along with increasing and improving the education that members of the athletic community receive, the Gambling Awareness Group at Eastern hopes to raise awareness about the resources available if someone does have a potential problem with gambling.
Possible warning signs of a problem gambler include: missing deadlines and important activities; difficulty in concentrating; lying to loved ones about gambling; and gambling to escape boredom, pain or loneliness.
Gambling among athletic communities is often overlooked due to the amount of awareness building that already occurs regarding drugs, alcohol and suicide. Problem gamblers are also more prone to risky behaviors such as drugs and alcohol. If gambling awareness was increased among athletes and their communities, teammates, coaches or family members might be able to spot a potential problem early on and get problem gamblers the resources they need before it is too late.
If you or someone you know has a gambling problem, please call the CCPG (Connecticut Council on Problem Gambling) hotline at this confidential number: 1-888-789-7777, text them at 847-973-5685, or visit them at: www.problemgambling.org