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MoneyTalk: Gambling Disorders

December 18, 2019 @ 4:31 pm CST

Photograph of colorful poker chips on a wooden table with people playing a card game in the background

moderncolors via Pixabay CC0

In this episode of MoneyTalk, Dr. Barbara O’Neill gives her 5 key takeaways fro our October 22, 2019 webinar Gambling Disorders: Special Considerations for Service Members which was presented by Dr. Loreen Rugle. Watch the recording here.

Show Notes
  1. What are the technical definitions of gambling, gambling disorder, and problem gambling?
  • The technical definition of gambling is playing games of chance for money (or another prize) or taking a risk of some sort in order to gain an advantage;
  • A Gamblers Anonymous handbook defines gambling as any betting or wagering, whether for money or not, no matter how slight or insignificant, where the outcome is uncertain or depends on chance
  • Another common definition is risking something of value on an activity with a uncertain outcome
  • A gambling disorder is defined according to a set of diagnostic criteria commonly referred to as DSM-5. There are 10 criteria items. A mild disorder is 4-5 criteria; moderate: 6-7 criteria, severe: 8-9 criteria
  • Google “gambling disorder DSM5” and you will fund a detailed list of the diagnostic criteria for problem gambling:
  • Problem gambling is characterized by difficulty limiting time and/or money spent on gambling, which has adverse consequences for the gambler and others
  1. What are some common signs that someone has a gambling disorder? DSM-5 diagnostic criteria are:
  • #1-Needs to gamble with increased amounts of money to achieve desired excitement level
  • #2-Is restless or irritable when attempting to cut down or stop gambling
  • #3-Has made repeated attempts to control, cut back, or stop gambling
  • #4-Is often preoccupied with gambling (e.g., gambling experiences and handicapping bets)
  • #5-Often gambles when feeling distressed, helpless, guilty, anxious, or depressed
  • #6-After losing money gambling, returns another day to “get even” (this is called “chasing”)
  • #7-Lies to conceal the extent of involvement with gambling
  • #8-Has jeopardized or lost a significant relationship, job, or opportunity because of gambling
  • #9-Relies on others to provide money to relieve desperation financial situations caused by gambling
  1. What were some statistics about gambling and service members that were shared in the webinar?
  • There were over 3,000 slot machines on overseas U.S. military bases
  • A very small percentage (.03%) of service members are diagnosed with gambling disorder or seen for problem gambling but…screening questions for gambling disorder are typically not used
  • No clear guidance on addressing gambling disorder in the military
  • Air Force study of 31,108 recruits; 6.2% with problem gambling and 1.9% with disordered gambling
  • S. Veterans have been found to have elevated rates of problems with gambling compared to non-Veterans; approximately 2.2% screened positive for at-risk or pathological gambling
  • Studies found links of gambling to bankruptcy, domestic violence, homelessness, and threats to others
  1. What are some ways that people are screened for gambling disorders?
  • There are a number of different sets of screening questions that are available to professionals
  • The screening questions have names like NORC DSM, Lie/Bet, NODS, and GA 20 Questions
  • The screens ask questions like “Have you ever gambled as a way to escape from personal problems?”
  • The speaker, Dr. Loreen Rugle, said that many screens do not work well in clinical practice because they give the illusion of addressing the issue
  • If clients don’t endorse screen items, counselors think that the clients don’t have any gambling problems
  • The speaker recommended starting a conversation versus identifying a problem; ask questions like “How do you budget for fun and recreation?” and “What are your favorite entertainment activities?”
  1. What are the six steps in financial planning for recovery?
  • #1-Clarify debt
  • #2-Identify expenses
  • #3-Identify/predict income
  • #4-Create a budget
  • #5-Debt repayment plan (e.g., credit counseling agency DMP, chapter 13 bankruptcy)
  • #6-Money protection plan (direct deposits, third-party notification, “no-touch” money, spendthrift clauses)


December 18, 2019
4:31 pm CST
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