Gambling is fun for most people. The thrill of victory and the danger of loss can be a great way to escape and feel like you’re living on the edge — even if you’re sitting down. Unfortunately, no matter where gambling exists, some people take things too far.
Michigan is now a full-service gambling state with both live and online options for casinos, poker, and sports betting. With all those possibilities comes a full slate of risks for Michiganders to suffer from problem gambling.
If you or someone you love is suffering from problem gambling in Michigan, take heart. There are several responsible gambling resources available in the state for those who are struggling to contain their gambling healthily. Below is a rundown of the best options you have at your disposal.
When can gambling be called a problem?
If you gamble often, you may have people in your life who believe that you overdo it. Opinions about what constitutes too much gambling vary from person to person.
So, you may be wondering if there’s a way to tell if your gambling has become a problem. The good news is that many resources have quizzes and other services to help you make that determination.
However, at the end of the day, what defines whether things are becoming a concern boils down to your honest answer to a very simple question:
Can you stop gambling if you want to stop?
If you can answer with a resounding “yes,” then you’re probably doing all right. However, if you waver with even a bit of uncertainty about it, there may be an issue.
So, here are some of the resources that you can use to get back on the right track.
Responsible gambling resources in Michigan
For Michiganders, the first thing to know is that all of Michigan’s services for problem gambling are coordinated by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS). There are several links and resources embedded in the agency’s state website that can be of great service to you, from providers and educational resources to other ways to connect sufferers with the right people.
The Michigan Problem Gambling Helpline
However, the first option for problem gamblers and their families should usually be the Michigan Problem Gambling Helpline. This resource, available at 1-800-270-7117, is staffed by trained counselors 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Rest assured that you can make a telephone call to the helpline with any amount of discretion that you need. The call is both toll-free and confidential.
The counselors that will answer your call can help you determine if you (or your loved one) would benefit from services and refer you to qualified providers in the state. The only caveat is that you must be a resident of Michigan to get assistance from the helpline.
Gambling Disorder Services
The helpline is part of a larger network of support services available in Michigan. Gambling Disorder Services are provided by a host of medical and mental health providers in the Great Lake State.
In addition to managing the helpline and the referrals that flow from its counselors, Gambling Disorder Services works to provide resources for both prevention and education in Michigan. There are brochures and pages of information to help sufferers and families understand the causes of and solutions to problem gambling.
The agency also maintains a Speakers Bureau to help spread information about problem gambling on the community level. Problem gambling is rarely contained to individuals, and civic leaders must be informed about the dangers of problem gambling and the effect that it can have on the community at large.
Michigan Association on Problem Gambling
A separate entity from the MDHHS that provides similar support is the Michigan Association on Problem Gambling (MAPG). This nonprofit organization can help problem gamblers find treatment but also places a heavy focus on the educational aspect of problem gambling. One of its most notable features is a quiz to help you determine if your gambling is worthy of concern.
MAPG is the affiliate for the National Association on Problem Gambling in the state. The organization is the most prominent organization to address problem gambling nationwide.
However, MAPG is closely linked with the state resources and routes most sufferers to the same helpline listed above. This intertwining only serves to underscore how important the helpline itself is for those who may be problem gamblers.
Direct treatment is not for everyone, though. The intense feelings, demands, or logistics can be overwhelming for some, particularly if they are already dealing with a rush of emotions and reactions over their behavior.
Instead, some problem gamblers will find it more useful to connect with others who are dealing with similar issues. There is often strength in numbers, and it’s much easier to walk the road to recovery if you’re not alone.
The first program worthy of attention is Gamblers Anonymous (GA). Like its more famous counterpart for alcoholism, GA consists of self-led meetings where sufferers commiserate and share their experiences that led them to change their ways.
In doing so, problem gamblers can learn tools for staying away from the tables that have worked. GA also provides a system of accountability for members, where other gambling addicts in recovery can oversee and encourage those who are just beginning their journey.
There are dozens of GA meetings across Michigan every week. Simply visit the Gamblers Anonymous page to find the gathering most convenient to you.
If you’d prefer a smaller or slightly different organizational approach, you can also reach out to GAM-ANON. GAM-ANON also offers several weekly meetings to support problem gamblers as they work themselves out of their troubles.
Debt and Financial Counseling
With many addictions, the effects are physical. Alcoholism leads to liver damage. Drug abuse damages the heart, among other things. However, problem gambling’s symptoms tend to manifest not in the body but in the bank account.
So, as part of Michigan’s problem gambling resources, the state recommends a debt counselor for the afflicted. The National Foundation for Credit Counseling can work with problem gamblers and their families to begin sorting through the havoc that the addiction can wreak upon the bank accounts of both the gamblers and their families.
Problem gambling can lead to tremendous feelings of shame regarding this particular issue and all the money that has been lost. However, please reach out to the NFCC if you need help — there’s no sense in worrying about the past and one phone call can start the process of digging out of the hole. Better is always better.
There is one final resource for Michigan problem gamblers that is both critically important and unfortunately limited. Michigan’s Disassociated Persons List is maintained by the Michigan Gaming Control Board as a means of restricting access to the state’s casinos for those who wish to be barred from the properties.
Please note that you must place yourself on this list in almost every case. Self-exclusion is a permanent action, and its drastic nature and finality require that it be the individual’s decision. However, in cases where problem gamblers cannot assure themselves that they will stay out of a casino, it can be the last alternative to help them recover.
Unfortunately, Michigan’s unique casino market means that self-exclusion is not as effective or limiting as it is in other states. While the MGCB’s list bars problem gamblers from the state’s three commercial casinos, the 20 other casinos in the state are tribal entities and are not bound by the exclusion order. Individual tribal casinos may offer options for self-exclusion.
There’s no denying that problem gambling is a destructive reality in any state with gambling. Some people, through a combination of their physiology and environment, find themselves unable to stop placing money at risk.
However, Michiganders are fortunate to have a roster of resources that they can use to reduce the deleterious effects of problem gambling on the community, families, and the gamblers themselves.
There are options for help available around the clock. Don’t suffer anymore — make the call, reach out, and get started on a bright, new day.