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Concerns about addiction potential follow gambling legalization

While recent legislation that legalizes online gambling in New Jersey may breathe new life into a struggling industry, it also raises a cache of issues revolving around the dangers posed to the small percentage of the population susceptible to gambling addiction. The new law, however, has not ignored the addiction potential for online gambling, for it was notably accompanied by a funding boost for the Council on Compulsive Gambling of New Jersey. The council has teamed up with the New Jersey Lottery and the Mental Health and Addiction Services division of the state’s Department of Human Services in order to educate the public regarding the addiction potential of online gambling by declaring March as Problem Gambling Awareness Month statewide.

The council’s executive director notes that there are a variety of resources that compulsive gamblers can tap into for support, including hotlines and support groups such as Gamblers Anonymous, which offers advice regarding debt relief and budgeting. Unfortunately, about half of those who are addicted to gambling have a secondary addiction to alcohol or drugs, according to the commissioner for the DHS’ Mental Health and Addiction Services division. Additionally, the council’s assistant director notes that less than 10 percent of individuals addicted to gambling seek help.

The crux of the awareness campaign is to not only reach out to and educate susceptible gamblers in New Jersey communities but also to inform them that they’re not alone and help is available. Without a helping hand, gambling debt can quickly escalate and overwhelm an individual, particularly if he or she feels hesitant to reach out for help.

Gambling is among many potential sources of debt that can leave an individual feeling paralyzed. Medical debt and credit card debt are also common sources of substantial debt, but a Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy filing can help one get back on his or her feet and potentially achieve a fresh financial start. An experienced bankruptcy attorney may provide advice regarding these bankruptcy options and help a client evaluate which one he or she qualifies for in order to get started on a debt repayment plan or debt reorganization.

Source: NJ.com, “Online gambling in NJ raises concerns for compulsive gamblers with ‘hidden addiction’,” Michelle Caffrey, March 10, 2013

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