As you may have noticed, a lot of our latest blogs have touched on the COVID-19 (or coronavirus) situation; as it has become the “new normal” in American society. First and foremost, we want to send out well wishes to everyone dealing with quarantines and self-isolation. We also hope our followers and their loved ones are staying healthy during this time. But, in our opinion, it is still important to discuss the addiction risks this situation poses. And one big issue worth addressing concerns gambling dependencies.
Several news outlets have released some alarming stats concerning online betting during this time. According to the Israeli-based data company Optimove, digital poker playing has increased by 225 percent during the month of March.
The company went on to report that a large portion of those joining games were first time online poker players. That led the researchers to conclude that isolation (and perhaps boredom) were leading people to gambling sites.
Sites like The Philadelphia Inquirer have touched on this topic too, pointing to the heightened risks for those who already have gambling issues. With professional sports being put on hiatus, online casinos have become a much bigger temptation.
And, as National Council on Problem Gambling executive director Keith Whyte told The Inquirer, there are multiple factors to consider; putting these people at a very high risk.
“People with gambling problems are at a higher risk now because they are isolated, have poor access to healthcare and poor access to resources to quit,” he explained.
Whyte also mentioned that financial stressors may lead to more gambling addiction cases. Sadly, the coronavirus has led to unemployment for many and stock market dips have ruined people’s savings accounts. Gambling is often touted as a “quick fix” to get money; which can be particularly tempting during a time such as this.
For that fact alone, it is anticipated that many more gambling relapses will occur during this period. Those who have successfully beaten their problem could find themselves falling into old traps, particularly if they feel the need to provide for themselves or their family.
Gambling recovery advocate Jody Bechtold also spoke with The Inquirer and offered a stern warning.
“People in recovery will go back to gambling [and] thinking that this will be a way to deal with their economic problems,” she said. “These are desperate times and they will use the desperate measures of the gambler’s attitude.”