Gambling can be fun and entertaining both in Kentucky and elsewhere. But if you aren’t practicing responsible gambling, the risks associated with the activity can be considerable.
Gambling is not meant to be unpleasant. Even if you come out of the racetrack or casino a few dollars lighter, you’re supposed to chalk it up to the cost of entertainment. Unfortunately, for thousands of Kentuckians, gambling is a terrible problem that wreaks havoc on bettors’ lives and those of their families and friends.
If you are worried that you or someone you know has a gambling problem, you’ve come to the right place. This page is designed to be a resource for all the ways to get help in Kentucky. Read on for information about responsible gambling and related resources in Kentucky.
What is responsible gambling?
“Responsible gambling” refers to a set of behaviors that, when practiced faithfully, allow gamblers to engage in the activity safely and without financial or personal harm.
Responsible gambling is also a two-sided coin. It is incumbent on the gambler to play responsibly, but it is also important that gaming operators recognize when patrons might be in trouble. When it comes to legal forms of gambling in Kentucky, all providers are required to follow best practices to encourage responsible gambling.
Both gamblers and providers can achieve these goals by following certain guidelines and instructions. In the end, keeping as many Kentucky gamblers in the “responsible” category as possible is important for everyone in Kentucky.
How to gamble responsibly in KY
If you’re planning to gamble at the state’s racetracks, simulcast facilities, historical horse racing venues or to bet on sports in Kentucky, you need to know how to gamble responsibly. If you don’t, you run the risk of taking things too far.
The list of tips below should help you to accomplish that task. Following these pointers should greatly increase your chance of avoiding problems when gambling.
- Don’t gamble when you are stressed. This includes avoiding gambling when feeling anxiety (about anything, including gambling itself) or depression. Unless you’re of clear mind and heart, the track and the casino are not good places to be.
- Only gamble with money you can afford to lose. Your gambling budget should not include money needed for other purposes. Obviously, you should never gamble with your rent or mortgage money, food money or transportation money. However, we’d go a step further to say that you shouldn’t even gamble with money designated for other recreational or luxury activities. Your money is always better spent elsewhere.
- Limit the money you take to gamble. If you don’t bring it, you can’t lose it.
- Limit the time you spend gambling. If you are missing work, social or family events to gamble, that should be a red flag that things may be spiraling out of control.
- Only gamble for predetermined durations. You should never gamble longer than planned, whether it be to let your winnings ride or to attempt to chase your losses and get back to even.
- Keep track of your wins and losses. Especially if you are someone who gambles more than just occasionally, take a step back regularly and tabulate the effect your gambling is having on your finances. Make sure that the losses aren’t worse than you remember.
- Be honest with your friends and family about how you did. If you are having to conceal the outcomes of your gambling trips, there may be a problem with what you’re doing.
- Finally, don’t be ashamed or afraid to ask friends and family for help if you think you’ve lost control. Hiding the problem will only make it worse, and it is worth it for every dollar and every minute you save.
What gambling providers should do
Gambling providers also have a responsibility to watch out for gamblers who may have lost control. In fact, educating staff to recognize problem gambling and how to intervene is as important for them to know as it is for bartenders to cut drunk patrons off from receiving more drinks.
Kentucky gaming providers would be well served to adopt the following practices:
- As mentioned, educate staff about the warning signs problem gamblers exhibit.
- Make sure odds are accurately posted so that gamblers understand the risks involved.
- Provide options for gamblers to take a break while on site. Sometimes even a 15-minute break might be enough to pull someone out of a crisis.
- Don’t allow patrons to gamble if they appear under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
- Make sure to restrict any underaged patrons from gambling.
- Never advertise services in a way that glamorizes bad behaviors or implies that winning is certain.
What is problem gambling?
You may not be totally clear on what “problem gambling” is. After all, a problem for one person might not be a problem for another.
To define the term, we should note that anyone can be affected by problem gambling, no matter their economic status. One way gambling becomes a problem is when the bettor is spending more money or time than planned. But we can broaden the definition. If gambling is having negative social, financial or physical impacts on a person, that’s a problem. It’s also a problem if those effects are felt by people close to the bettor.
Of course, we must remember that problem gambling and gambling addiction don’t often leave any physical marks on their sufferers. Other addictions, like drugs or alcohol, usually manifest with physical symptoms. Problem gambling and gambling addiction, on the other hand, often have signs that are far more subtle.
There are signs, however. If you or someone in your life are exhibiting any of the following symptoms, it may be time to inspect and reevaluate the situation.
- Always talking about gambling. No matter the situation, the problem gambler is likely to return the conversation to gambling. They may relate everything from a recent trip to what happened at the track. They may watch shows about gambling almost exclusively. The topic will always seem to come up.
- Having guilty feelings about gambling. If the gambler is practicing proper discipline when gambling, that person will have no apologies for the activity. If someone feels bad about something, it’s usually because they know it was the wrong thing to do.
- Exhibiting personality changes. If you or someone you love suddenly begins acting out of character, it might indicate something troubling is afoot. A formerly patient person who begins exploding in anger may have other things on their mind that are bothering them.
- Having unexplained financial troubles. The one tangible effect that problem gambling can have is on the wallet or pocketbook. If a person who seemingly shouldn’t have money problems is always broke or asking for a loan, the money is going somewhere, and it may be going to the track or the HHR machine.
- Lying and/or stealing. Finally, someone caught up in an addiction may be willing to commit acts they normally wouldn’t. Even previously upstanding individuals can fall into this trap. If you or someone close to you suddenly begins lying about their gambling or pilfering money from you or others near to you, that’s a giant red flag.
None of these symptoms is meant to be definitive. In fact, a person can exhibit some of these symptoms without necessarily suffering from a problem associated with gambling.
That said, all of these are common signs of problem gambling, so be aware of them. Especially if a person is exhibiting multiple signs from this list, it might be time to seek help.
Kentucky’s problem gambling resources
If you think you or a loved one might have a gambling problem, it’s important to know where to go for help. Don’t pursue the road to recovery alone. Support is absolutely critical to success.
Counseling for problem gambling
To get started with assistance, call or text 1-800-GAMBLER (1-800-426-2537). This helpline is available around the clock, and trained counselors can help guide you to a licensed therapist or other resources for relief.
If you’re looking for more information about problem gambling and what you can do to fight it, you can also visit the Kentucky Council on Problem Gambling. The KYCPG is the state affiliate of the National Council on Problem Gambling, the leading organization in the battle against problem gambling and gambling addiction in the United States.
Support groups for problem gambling
Some people suffering from issues like problem gambling prefer working with support groups to seeing a counselor or therapist. If you are in this category, then it might do you well to try a Gamblers Anonymous meeting in Kentucky.
Every week, there are numerous gatherings of this group in locations across the Bluegrass State. Attendees of these meetings are fellow problem gamblers who are at various points in their journey through recovery. They can provide you with real-world advice, accountability and encouragement from a place of understanding, as no one at a GA meeting has any room to judge others.
If you prefer not to meet face-to-face, you can also try GamTalk, an online discussion forum dedicated to problem gambling. It is, in essence, the online version of Gamblers Anonymous and brings you together with other sufferers. The only differences are that you may talk with problem gamblers both inside and outside of Kentucky, and you can also get in touch at any time of day.
Up to this point, Kentucky has been one of a handful of states not to fund responsible gambling initiatives or programs through its state budget. In a bit of good news, however, the state’s new foray into legal sports betting includes a budgetary allocation for responsible gambling. Therefore, if the options seem a bit spare at the moment, they will soon get a noticeable boost.
Self-exclusion from gambling
Another addition mandated by the new sports betting law is creating a self-exclusion list. This list, administered by the state, will help gamblers who know they need external constraints to curb their gambling problem.
Every Kentucky sportsbook gives gamblers the option to self-exclude. Then, those operators will submit their lists to the state, who will compile an entire list and redistribute that information to the operators. This keeps gamblers from self-excluding at one sportsbook and re-opening an account at another.
Voluntarily placing themselves on the self-exclusion list will prevent them from taking part in gambling activities in the state and render them a trespasser if they attempt to enter a Kentucky gaming location.
Usually, a person must stay on the self-exclusion list for at least a year, after which they must also go through an evaluation process to come off it. For most self-exclusion lists, permanent placement is an available option.
Because self-exclusion is such an extreme step, it cannot be undertaken by anyone besides the gambler themselves. Though you may want to place a family member or friend on the list, there is no way to do so by proxy.
The Kentucky Lottery also offers self-exclusion from buying lottery tickets online, plus other resources to help gamblers avoid other pitfalls. See the Kentucky Lottery Responsible Gambling page for more information.
Be aware of problem gambling and know how to find help
The National Council on Problem Gambling estimates that roughly 1.1% of Kentucky adults are having a problem controlling their gambling. In other words, there are more than 30,000 sufferers in the state, and thousands more who are adversely affected by their proximity to problem gamblers.
It’s a real problem, and the introduction of legal sports betting in Kentucky should cause everyone to pay closer attention to responsible gambling.
If you do need help, there’s no reason for you to wait another minute to seek assistance. Resources are available 24/7. The call is toll-free, the live chat is free, and every meeting is without cost. Don’t hesitate to take your first step on the road to a brighter future.