The Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) has enhanced the 1-800-BETS-OFF web site with a live chat feature. During the hours of 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday, visitors to the web site will be able to click on a chat icon to be connected to a trained problem gambling counselor.
The www.1800BetsOff.org web site was launched in 2011 and was accessed by 14,353 individuals last year.
"We know nearly all adult Iowans (91 percent) report having gambled in any form at some point in their lives and 12 percent report experiencing at least one symptom of problem gambling during the past year," said Eric Preuss of the IDPH Office of Problem Gambling.
"The good news is that for those who have a gambling problem, treatment does work. Six months after entering treatment, 90 percent of those questioned said their gambling activities were much less now compared to when they entered treatment."
According to the 2011 Iowa Gambling Treatment Outcomes System: A Paired Sample Analysis of Treatment Outcomes study, 94 percent of adult Iowans admire the courage of people who seek help for a gambling problem; 79 percent of adult Iowans say it would be very or fairly easy to talk with someone if they have a gambling problem. Adding the chat feature to the www.1800BetsOff.org web site offers another opportunity for Iowans to seek assistance if they or someone they know has a problem with gambling.
Signs of problem gambling include:
* Preoccupation with gambling (i.e. reliving past gambling experiences, planning the next venture, or thinking of ways to get money with which to gamble)
* Secretive about his/her gambling habits, and defensive when confronted
* Increasing bet amounts when gambling in order to achieve the desired excitement ("high")
* Restless or irritable when not gambling
* Lying to family and others about the extent of gambling
* Jeopardizing or losing relationships, jobs, education or career opportunities because of gambling
For more information on IDPH gambling prevention and treatment programs, visit www.idph.state.ia.us/IGTP/.