Gambling can be a fun hobby for many people, but it also carries its share of serious consequences. A player’s passion for gambling can easily evolve into an addiction when managed improperly.
Problem gambling destroys the lives of many players and affects surrounding family and friends. Tennessee offers a variety of resources to assist with treatment, prevention and overall awareness of the problem.
“There are many harsh lessons to be learned from gambling, but the harshest one of all is the difference between having fun and being smart.”
-Hunter S. Thompson
Gambling addiction can happen to anyone; a player can quickly get in over his/her head without realizing it. One of the most difficult parts of gambling is knowing when enough is enough.
The key to a successful recovery lies in first recognizing the addiction, and then working to correct the issue before it spirals too far out of control. Two major signs of a gambling problem are when a person lies about their playing habits and when they wager more than they can afford to lose.
A range of other potential warning signs includes:
If you or someone you know is dealing with one or more of these symptoms, it is worth looking further into. A variety of treatment options and resources are available to help struggling Tennesseans take the first steps in their recovery process.
The state of Tennessee offers resources and support for problem gamblers and their loved ones. Assistance can be found through counseling, clinical treatment and support groups.
State-approved and state-funded resources are located on The Tennessee Department of Mental Health & Substance Abuse Services website.
For additional information, the site directs people to:
Dept. of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services
Phone: (615) 770-0460
Email: [email protected]
The Problem Gambling Outreach, Education & Referrals Program is a sector of the Tennessee Association of Alcohol, Drug and Other Addiction Services (TAADAS).
It focuses on aiding individuals and families who have been affected by gambling. The program works to identify at-risk individuals and increase community awareness.
TAADAS operates the REDLINE, a confidential 24/7 information and referral helpline that provides callers with educational resources and an up-to-date database of support groups, counselors, and treatment providers. The hotline can be reached at 800-889-9789.
One resource provided to callers by REDLINE is The Problem Gambling Treatment Services Program. The program offers educational services, assessments and outpatient treatment to those in need.
Anyone seeking treatment is directed to the psychology department at the University of Memphis:
Dr. James Whelan, Executive Director, The Gambling Clinic
University of Memphis, Department of Psychology
400 Innovation Drive
Memphis, TN 38152-3230
Phone: (901) 678-3736
E-mail: [email protected]
National resources are available to Tennessee residents alongside the state’s regional initiatives.
The National Council on Problem Gambling (NCPG) operates the National Problem Gambling Helpline, a public resource that provides local touchpoints to those in need of assistance. Helpline specialists can be reached by phone or via text message at 800-522-4700, as well as through an online chat.
NCPG also offers a handful of screening tools to help players initially determine whether they might have a gambling problem.
The NORC Diagnostic Screen For Gambling Problems – Self Administered (NODS-SA) is a quick 10-question self-assessment designed to help players evaluate their gambling habits.
Gamblers Anonymous is a support group of likeminded peers looking to cope with their gambling problems while simultaneously assisting others in their recovery process. Assistance is available for the family and friends of those dealing with a gambling addiction as well.
Gam-Anon offers a self-help fellowship for those affected by a loved one’s gambling problem. Support and information can be found at 708-802-0105.
Similarly, GamTalk is an online peer support forum for anyone troubled by gambling.
In 2016, approximately 2.2% of Tennessee adults, or 113,110 residents, had a gambling problem. For most individuals, the issues don’t end at gambling. Those with this type of addiction often experience additional complications.
An estimated 76% of problem gamblers are also living with a major depressive disorder. Paired together, these two can create a deadly cocktail.
Gambling addictions carry the highest suicide rate of any addiction, since it often leads to other issues such as divorce and bankruptcy. One recent study found that problem gamblers are 15 times more likely to take their own life than the general population.
Similarly, spouses of problem gamblers are three times more likely to attempt suicide than an average person.
Once sports betting goes live in the state, more funds will be allocated toward prevention and treatment initiatives. As gambling expands in Tennessee, so will resources for gamblers.
Five percent of all revenue accrued from sportsbooks in the state will be contributed to the Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse’s problem gambling resources.
Initial analysis found that this could produce an additional $2.5 million in annual funding for addiction prevention resources in the state. Currently, only $200,000 of the state’s annual gambling funds are allocated to such services.
The Volunteer State has implemented further precautions and responsible practices in preparation for the state’s sports betting launch on Nov. 1.
As part of each Tennessee sportsbook’s “responsible gambling plan”, Tennesseans have the ability to control and limit the amount of money and time spent on a sports betting platform.
Bettors will also have detailed statistics available to them concerning wins, losses, time spent wagering and amount deposited.
Responsible gambling information, in addition to a state-approved hotline number, will be made readily available on all sportsbook apps and websites.
Gamblers can take an additional step to protect themselves against addiction through self-exclusion. This is a program where players can voluntarily ban themselves from taking part in legalized gambling.
Tennessee sportsbooks are required to provide a link on their platform where players can opt to self-exclude themselves. As a result, players are blocked from accessing these sites.
State law stipulates that self-exclusion requests cannot be reversed once in effect, though the length of self-exclusion will vary between operators.
Tennessee requires operators to oversee their own list of self-excluded gamblers and to share that list between sportsbooks. These self-exclusion lists are then required to be shared with the Tennessee Education Lottery (TEL) through monthly reports.
When done responsibly, gambling can be a fun, rewarding hobby that is safe for everyone involved. However, problem gambling is a slippery slope.
If necessary, you can get a handle on your zeal for gambling by tapping into Tennessee’s problem gambling resources.