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W.Va. group offers responsible gambling advice

According to the American Gaming Organization, $6.8 billion will likely be wagered on this year’s Super Bowl, including legal and illegal bets.
In West Virginia, three casinos offer in-person sports betting, and mobile betting is also available throughout the state. For most people, this amounts to harmless fun.
For some, however, these bets spell big trouble. Those new to betting, perhaps lured by the new legitimacy brought by legality, need to follow the rules of responsible
gambling, according to 800-GAMBLER.Jennifer Davis-Walton, director of The Problem Gamblers Help Network of West Virginia, which operates the 800-GAMBLER program, said gambling addiction is a serious problem for many people in West Virginia.
Studies have shown 1 in 50 West Virginians may be dealing with a gambling problem. Davis-Walton said her group has taken more than 14,000 calls from state residents asking for help with a gambling problem since the program started in 2000.
“People start to get into trouble when they start using betting as a way to make money instead of just having fun,” Davis-Walton said. “When they lose money, they chase their loss by betting even more. This turns into a downward spiral.”
She urges those who are planning to gamble to follow these rules:

Treat the money you lose as the cost of entertainment and any winnings as a bonus

Set money and time limits, and stick to them.

Expect to lose.

Never gamble on credit.

Don’t let gambling interfere with work or your personal life.

Avoid chasing lost money.

Don’t use gambling to cope. Seek professional help.
Learn the warning signs. Call 800-GAMBLER (426-2537) if you need help.

Anyone who thinks they or a loved one needs help with a gambling problem is urged to call 800-GAMBLER. Callers speak with a helpline counselor based in Charleston, and they are referred to one of the network’s 70-plus specially trained gambling addiction counselors throughout the state.
They receive a free two-hour consultation. Funds are available for those who do not have insurance to pay for additional treatment. Follow-up studies with helpline callers show that the majority of callers are able to stop gambling within six months of entering treatment.