Casino Watch Focus reported that local experts point to easy casino access as a key reason why the Joplin area is experiencing an increase in problem gambling. The same Joplin Globe article addressed why the costs of casinos far out weights their benefits:
There are four “steps” or levels by which a person becomes addicted.
In the first phase, gambling is treated as an occasional, recreational activity. From there, the gambling becomes more preoccupying and more frequent. The third phase is where gamblers experience some sort of “impact” in their lives, says McDonald. The impact could be financial, such as using household money to gamble, or social, such as arguing with a spouse. In the final phase, the gambling becomes an obsession. McDonald describes this phase as one of desperation.
“People can’t get it off their mind, the idea that ‘I’ve got to get this fixed,’” he said. McDonald believes the problems casinos bring outweigh the benefits.
Help is available, as the Globe concludes:
Problem gamblers use the Voluntary Exclusion Program provided by the Missouri Gaming Commission. The program is a way for problem gamblers to acknowledge they have a problem and to take personal responsibility for it by agreeing to stop visiting casinos.
Help is also available by calling (888) BETSOFF to learn about free counseling services or Gamblers Anonymous meetings in the local area.