Iowans With Gambling Problems Urged To Get Help

Experts say the calls for help with gambling addictions rise 30% at this time of year because of the NCAA basketball tournament.

After Iowa legalized sports betting in August, the Area Substance Abuse Council in Cedar Rapids expects to see an increase in calls for help.

ASAC leaders are partnering with Mercy Medical Center and Coe College to bring attention to problem gambling.

They say a gambling addiction can affect a person's work and social life. Some of the signs include people ditching their favorite hobbies to gamble, being quiet about it or getting upset when confronted about gambling.

People will also start to bet more money, and they will become worse with their finances. Experts say some signs of a gambling addiction are not as visible as other addictions.

"A lot of it is a behavioral addiction,” Angela Harbour with ASAC tells KCRG-TV 9. “So while they might start to neglect their physical appearance as far as their problem, you don't see those warning signs physically.”

ASAC says more than 2 million adults across the country meet the criteria for a gambling disorder. Another 4 million to 6 million would be considered problem gamblers.

March is Problem Gambling Month in Iowa. People with gambling problems can call 1-800-BETS-OFF.

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