Sean Copeland, an attorney for the Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, is MNPGA’s newest board member. He brings the important perspective of tribal interests to MNPGA.
Sean first learned about MNAPG from attending Minnesota Indian Gambling Association (MIGA) meetings. Although he doesn’t have an in-depth knowledge of problem gambling, it’s an area that he hopes to better understand.
“One of the reasons I joined the board was so that I could learn more about problem gambling and hopefully bring some of that knowledge back to the Band and perhaps help implement some problem gambling solutions,” says Sean.
Sean has worked as an attorney for the Band since 2010 and has served as the Band’s tribal attorney since 2013. He performs legal work related to tribal governance, natural resources, education, healthcare and gaming.
Sean, who enjoys mountain biking around Duluth, grew up in Seattle but has lived all over the country. He came to Minnesota for a volunteer program and law school. “I previously worked in the criminal justice system as a prosecutor and public defender, which is one of the reasons I’m interested in problem gambling,” says Sean. “I’ve dealt with a lot of people with chemical dependency issues so I have some familiarity with addiction. I’m excited to be here and work on these important issues.”
Over the last six months, we contracted with Preston Spire’s public relations team, One Simple Plan, to increase the visibility of numerous issues pertaining to problem gambling. Since starting this effort, MNAPG has had two op-ed pieces published, one which is circulating among various statewide outlets. This is important, as we want to reach as many Minnesotans as possible. The first piece was published in the Star Tribune and the second in the Duluth News Tribune. MNAPG also received air time on local stations, with interviews on KTTC (Rochester), KARE11 (Twin Cities) and Fox News 9 (Twin Cities). Our media communications can be found at mnapg.org/news.
MNAPG is undergoing a refresh of its strategic plan, initially approved in 2019. We’ll be reaching out to our stakeholders for additional input as we get closer to finalizing our goals and strategies. The updated plan will capture and reflect some of the changes that have taken place in the industry since the original plan was created.
The gambling landscape continues to shift with rapid expansion and responses to regulations that seem insufficient. Those working in prevention, treatment and research need to understand and be responsive to these changes.
The MNAPG conference will feature presenters from across the country and Canada sharing their perspectives as clinicians, financial advisors, people in recovery and researchers. It will be a great way to network with others committed to minimizing the harms caused by gambling disorder and to learn more about recent trends and new tools available for those who need help.
Who Should Attend?
The conference is appropriate for many people, including:
o Gambling, alcohol and drug addiction counselors and therapists
o Other health care and social service workers
o Law enforcement officers
o School and church leaders
o Lawyers and financial professionals
o People in recovery and their families
CEU credits are available from various Minnesota professional licensing boards.
Programs and Speakers
While conference details are still falling into place as of this writing, here are some of the programs and speakers that will be part of the conference:
oResources and Tools for Financial Counseling in Gambling Disorder Treatment,presented by Cara Macksoud, CEO of Money Habitudes, and Alex De Marco, founder and CEO of MoneyStack, Inc. and GamFin.
oThe All-In Podcast Comes to Minnesota!,presented by Brian Hatch, peer recovery specialist for Bettor Choice, and Jeff Wasserman, MPA, JD, ICGC-I, CPRS, judicial outreach and development director for the Delaware Council on Gambling Problems.
oUsing Affordability Guidelines as a Tool for Player Protection Online in a North American Context, presented by Lia Nower, J.D., Ph.D., a distinguished professor and director of the Center for Gambling Studies at Rutgers University.
oWorking with Clients and Gambling Harms: Why it Matters and How to Lower Resistance to Treatment,presented by Jay Robinson, JR Consulting, an internationally sought-after expert in the field of preventing and responding to gambling harms.
oThe Public Health Impact of Sports Betting Expansion, presented by Dr. Timothy W. Fong, M.D., a Professor of Psychiatry at the Jane and Terry Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior at UCLA.
MNAPG annual conference
Hilton Minneapolis/Bloomington, 3900 American Blvd W., Bloomington, MN
The Minnesota Alliance on Problem Gambling (MNAPG) received two national awards at the recent conference of the National Council on Problem Gambling. MNAPG received awards for the best affiliate newsletter and the best affiliate website.
“We have devoted considerable time and resources into both of these important communication tools, so we’re thrilled to see our work recognized at a national level,” says Susan Sheridan Tucker, MNAPG executive director. “I am grateful to my team for their contributions in making these useful resources.”
The 2023 Affiliate Website Award from the National Council on Problem Gambling recognizes an outstanding website that has increased awareness of problem gambling. MNAPG’s new website is the culmination of in-depth planning into MNAPG’s various audiences. MNAPG strives to be the central hub for all things Minnesota problem gambling-related, offering access to treatment information, research findings, recovery stories and podcasts.
The 2023 Affiliate Newsletter Award from the National Council on Problem Gambling recognizes an outstanding problem gambling-related newsletter. Northern Light, MNAPG’s quarterly newsletter, has earned several national awards since it was created in 2010. The newsletter seeks to educate visitors and readers about the latest trends in problem gambling, treatment and prevention, as well as provide updates on the organization’s outreach efforts and highlight stories of hope in recovery.
The Minnesota Conference on Problem Gambling, produced by MNAPG, took place in mid-November. The theme was Connecting. Reflecting. Moving Forward. Assessing the state of problem gambling. Our conference featured counselors, researchers, an economist and individuals with lived experience.
In this issue of Northern Light, we’re highlighting two of our most powerful presentations, both from those with lived experience. Stories of recovery are always among the most popular sessions at our conference. While each of these stories is unique in terms of games of choice, length of addiction and recovery motivation, they also share common elements, such as greater self-awareness and a much-needed sense of peace.
Women’s Panel Discussion
The women’s panel discussion included four women of various ages and backgrounds detailing their experiences: three were gamblers in recovery and one was an affected family member. Each of the panelists were mothers and were motivated in their recovery to do better not just for themselves but for their children as well.
Among the perspectives shared was the need for there to be safe spaces for woman in recovery, particularly for women of color. Many incorrect assumptions are made about women gamblers and clinicians don’t typically pursue gambling behaviors with their female clients, not realizing that it can be a part of their addiction or mental health story.
Other takeaways from the presentation include:
o Women’s betting isn’t any different than men, though other aspects of their stories are different.
o It’s important to have women-only safe spaces for those whoe have experienced sexual traumas.
o Recovery is not one-size-fits-all, and finding spaces to meet their particular needs was vital to their recovery.
o In some instances, there was generational trauma/addiction, necessitating the need to have frank conversations to break the chain.
Several times throughout the presentation, the women expressed the desire for clinicians and researchers to pay more attention to women, to ask questions about gambling, and to dig deeper into the behavior. They felt that women have been long ignored and that diagnosing the gambling addiction didn’t come to light until each were far along in the addiction.
It takes tremendous courage to relate one’s story to an audience. MNAPG is so grateful to each of these women for agreeing to participate and sharing some of their insights and experiences.
Financial Risk Discussion
Chris Farrell of Minnesota Public Radio and Dan Trolaro of Epic Risk Management spoke about financial literacy and financial freedom and its relationship to gambling. Chris, who has a background in finance and investments, emphasized the importance of weighing risks. Dan, formerly a finance and investment trader, is a person in recovery who used gambling as a salve after experiencing first-hand trauma and tragedy from the World Trade Center attack. His gambling led him to embezzle millions and he ultimately served time for his crimes. Together, Chris and Dan offered a great dialogue about investing today, understanding the differences between risk – appropriate vs. inappropriate, and reframing the understanding of financial literacy.
The speakers emphasized that investing is not a bad thing, but stressed that if one is to do it, they need to understand the vehicles in which they are investing. Additionally, before any investing takes place, it’s important to have conversations with yourself and family as to what you want your money to do for you. Is it for retirement, college, family vacations or long-term health needs? It’s important to set goals and hold yourself accountable to those goals.
Chris talked about peer groups that come together with similar investing goals and values, holding each other accountable and supporting one another as they try to obtain those goals. There’s nothing wrong with putting some money into the market as long as you fully understand what you are putting at risk. Financial literacy is meant to inform you about the risks and to develop good habits; it’s not a tool to determine what to invest in. Establishing goals and holding particular values about money is key.
Financial literacy is about freedom, opportunity and risk, and creating a life that incorporates these three elements. We want people to make appropriate decisions by asking, “What does financial freedom look like to you?” “What do you want your money story to be?” “What are the appropriate risks to get you there?”
The question was raised as to whether people who are early in their recovery should invest at all. Dan said it was important in his early recovery not to invest. He feels a sustainable and meaningful long-term recovery must be a total transformation. Recovery is the path that leads to a whole new life where there isn’t room for gambling. It’s a wholesale change to the way one lives one’s life.