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Knowing when to stop
Johnnie Phillips, Sports Editor
Johnnie Phillips, editor, sports, Steele County Times

While most Steele County sports fans likely have tuned into the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament or “March Madness” this month, many may be unfamiliar with the fact that March is also Problem Gambling Awareness Month.

As someone who has personally shown interest in the legalization of sports betting in Minnesota, I think it is equally as important to educate those who gamble about the perils of addiction.

According to a news release from the Minnesota Alliance on Problem Gambling (MNAPG), “March is Problem Gambling Awareness Month, intentionally designated alongside the NCAA’s March Madness, which will produce an influx of gambling across Minnesota and the country — with one in five Americans expected to gamble. To raise awareness of gambling addiction and its consequences, the MNAPG is using the month to help Minnesotans become aware of this addiction and how to seek help.

While gambling addiction may seem taboo to those who have never seen or experienced it firsthand, I can assure you it must be treated with equal consideration.

According to the MNAPG, gambling addiction should be viewed as “a real addiction – just as serious as an alcohol or drug addiction.”

I wholeheartedly agree with this assessment, as gambling deals with and affects two major parts of your life: mental health and finances.

The common mistake that I see in both in casinos and at other legal betting establishments around the country is people who believe that gambling is a means to an end.

The entire gambling industry is not designed to favor the player.

Instead, reference the saying as old as time: “The house always wins.”
Gambling should be viewed as cheap entertainment – and the moment it no longer feels that way is the time you should step back and re-evaluate.

According to the MNAPG, common signs of problem gambling include: “Increased frequency of gambling activity. gambling for significantly longer periods of time than originally planned. boasting about wins, but never talking about losses. lying about how money is spent, and turning to other excesses to relieve gambling stress (i.e. alcohol, sleep, video games, etc.).”

If you believe that problem gambling is an addiction known only to adults, it may be time to think again.

A statistic from the MNAPG that caught me off guard is that 10,000 high schoolers in Minnesota alone reported problem gambling, alongside 250,000 adults.

If you plan to gamble or care about someone who does, it may be best to monitor from afar and look for the signs to ensure that they are doing so responsibly.

Gambling is a part of the entertainment industry; it is not meant to be a career path.

Please stay safe and wager responsibly!

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