WATERVILLE, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- This is National Problem Gambling Awareness Week, and now that Maine has two casinos plus the state lottery, the state held its first annual conference on the issue.
The event was sponsored by the Office of Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services. The Maine Gambling Control Board, the Bureau of Alcoholic Beverages and Lottery Operations, Hollywood Casino and Oxford Casino. The idea is to help make people aware of the signs of problem gambling as well as promote how people can gamble responsibly. It's estimated that 2-3% of the U.S. population will have a gambling problem.
Keynote speaker Lesa Densmore, who is originally from Gardiner, told her story of how she became addicted to video poker. At one point, she was so ashamed, she tried to end her life.
She said, "The sickness and how pathetic and real this is. Even after me, wanting to end my life, waking up the next day.... and it hadn't happened. I went back to the casino. "
Densmore got help through an inpatient treatment program in Maryland. The key for her was working through underlying emotional issues that caused her to look for escape. She now works as a recovery coach.
Here are some of the signs of Problem Gambling, offered by the Office of Substance Abuse, the Maine State Lottery and the Gambling Control Board:
-- You have often gambled longer than you had planned
-- You have gambled until your money was gone
-- Thoughts of gambling have caused you to lose sleep
-- You have used your income or savings to gamble while letting bills go unpaid
-- You have made repeated, unsuccessful attempts to stop gambling
-- You have broken the law or considered breaking the law to finance your gambling
-- You have borrowed money to finance your gambling
-- You have felt depressed or suicidal because of your gambling losses
-- You have been remorseful after gambling
-- You have argued about your gambling behavior with people you care about
The Office of Substance Abuse also offers some tips on gambling responsibly:
-- Make sure you bring a set amount of money with you to gamble
-- Do not bring a credit card
-- Set a time limit for how long you plan to gamble
If you think you or someone you know might have a problem with gambling addiction, you can get help by calling 211, Maine's information hotline.
National Council on Problem Gambling
Maine Office of Substance Abuse