Across the country, local governments are at some stage of expanding legal gambling options for the people who live within those jurisdictions.
This includes considering legislation to legalize new forms of gaming, launching those verticals, and/or working on regulations for the new activity. Connecticut is no exception.
It looks like legal online gambling, such as online casinos and sports betting, will be available soon in the Constitution State. That means new entertainment options for residents in and visitors to Connecticut.
However, it also means that licensed gambling operators and residents who gamble also have new responsibilities, which include but aren’t limited to providing programs for people with compulsive gambling issues. It also incorporates preventing those who have impairments or who are underage from being able to gamble.
Additionally, the prevention of problem gambling needs to be a priority. There are ways the gambling industry can be enjoyable for Connecticuters while minimizing risks.
What is responsible gambling?
Responsible gambling is simply gambling enjoyed and offered in a way that minimizes harm to vulnerable people. It’s the reason Connecticut has a minimum age of 21 years old to participate at licensed gaming establishments, for example.
The thought behind such a restriction is people younger than that age lack the cognitive ability and life experience to make sound decisions when gaming. It is also the motivation behind programs for people with compulsive gambling issues.
Responsible gambling is just as much on the gambler as it is the operator offering the gaming. Some tips to avoid gambling problems include:
- Before you start playing, set a budget and time limit, then stick to them
- Don’t chase gambling losses by playing more
- Learn the odds and rules of the game you want to play prior to putting your money down
- Never wager more than you can easily afford to lose
- Take a timeout if you feel yourself getting too emotionally engaged to think about your gambling critically
What is problem gambling?
Gambling problems can look different from one individual to the next. They also come in varying degrees of severity.
However, it’s possible for anyone to develop an issue with gambling at any time. A simple definition is when gambling becomes a compulsive behavior or when gambling interferes with a person’s ability to successfully navigate other areas of life.
A list of possible warning signs includes:
- Borrowing money or selling possessions to gamble
- Constantly thinking about gambling
- Feeling anxious or sad when not gambling
- Gambling to experience an emotional “high”
- Knowingly wagering money that should go to make investments or pay bills
- Losing interest in normal activities
- Lying to others about gambling activity
- Skipping out on other activities to gamble
- Stealing money or possessions to gamble
Connecticut problem gambling resources
While Connecticuters have access to many national resources relevant to responsible gambling, there are some agencies and programs that work in this regard closer to home.
These include counseling and local support for residents with gambling problems. For instance, the Connecticut Lottery partners with GameSense to provide many resources that are free to access. You can contact the lottery’s helpline by:
- Calling (888) 789-7777
- Texting CTGAMB to 53342
- Visiting ccpg.org/chat
The Connecticut Council on Problem Gambling operates that free chat service, available Monday through Friday, from 5 p.m. to midnight. At other times or if you prefer, you can call (800) 346-6238. The helpline is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
The personnel there can refer you to treatment services, like the Connecticut State Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services program. The state also funds outpatient services for people with compulsive gambling issues called Bettor Choice Programs. To find those in your part of the state, call (866) 440-4375.
Although the state does not offer a self-exclusion program, tribal casino operators in Connecticut do. These programs allow people to voluntarily ban themselves from the casino grounds for a period of five years or the remainder of their lives.
To do so, you will need to complete the forms for Foxwoods Resort Casino and Mohegan Sun. Once completed, you will need to get them notarized. Then, include a color passport-sized photograph clearly showing the front of your head, face unobscured, and your shoulders. Mail the appropriate documents to:
- MPTN Gaming Commission Chair
- 350 Trolley Line Blvd
- PO Box 3250
- Mashantucket, CT 06338-3250
- Mohegan Sun
- Mohegan Sun, Attn. Security
- 1 Mohegan Sun Blvd
- Uncasville, CT 06382
National resources for responsible and problem gambling
The preeminent organization working to help people with gambling problems across the United States is the National Council on Problem Gambling. Among the services the NCPG offers is a confidential, free, 24/7 helpline. Connecticuters can access that via text or voice at (800) 522-4700 or via webchat.
Through the NCPG, people can access counseling, support groups, and other forms of treatment.
Gamblers Anonymous is a popular support group and self-help program for people with compulsive gambling issues. Gam-Anon is the same thing but geared toward people who do not themselves have a gambling problem but are nonetheless affected by the issue of someone in their lives.
For everyone involved, GamTalk is a 24/7 moderated online peer support forum.
Importance of responsible gambling
It’s crucial for everyone involved in Connecticut gambling to grasp how to gamble responsibly.
The best way to avoid the sometimes catastrophic consequences of problem gambling is to simply never take part in irresponsible gaming. However, there’s also no shame in seeking assistance if and when gambling does become a problem. In fact, it’s a sign of personal strength to reach out during such a time.
Resources are available around the clock and in every part of the state, often on a completely anonymous basis and free of charge. As the gambling industry continues to grow in Connecticut, the amount of these resources will grow right along with them, making sure Connecticuters have safe ways to play.