Susan Sheridan Tucker, Executive Director of Minnesota Alliance on Problem Gambling, and Adam Prock, Executive Director of The Minnesota Lottery, team up to talk about the harms of gifting lottery tickets to minors. This informative public service announcement is a part of an annual campaign that MNAPG participates in to remind adults to gift responsibly to minors this holiday season.
Research shows the younger someone is when they are exposed to gambling, the greater the likelihood they may have issues as an adult. Many people in recovery state that they started gambling at a young age and never thought it would lead to devastating consequences. A recent study showed that 1 in 4 18-24 year-olds think gambling is a good way to make money. With that in mind it’s important to acknowledge that youth gambling has emerged as a significant growing public health issue.
Both organizations will promote the importance of responsible gambling through various media channels, joining the unified effort to raise awareness about this issue around Minnesota, the United States and North America.
Research shows that the earlier a person participates in gambling or is exposed to it in childhood, the more likely they are to develop a gambling problem later in life. Youth are often exposed to gambling through a lottery game given by an adult who may be unaware of the associated risks. “We are pleased to be partners in this campaign with the Minnesota Alliance on Problem Gambling,” said Adam Prock, executive director of the Minnesota Lottery. “We understand the risks of youth gambling and caution that our products are designed specifically for adults.”
“Preventing youth gambling is a year-long effort, but during the month of December when gift giving is prevalent it’s an opportunity to remind adults that there are real risks in gifting a lottery ticket to a child,” says Susan Sheridan Tucker, executive director of MNAPG. “Children don’t understand the fundamentals of odds, and if they receive a winning ticket, the expectation is established that it will happen again.”
“Youth problem gambling has emerged as a significant and growing public health issue,” said Keith Whyte, executive director of NCPG. “We applaud the Minnesota Lottery and Minnesota Alliance on Problem Gambling’s for raising awareness about the risks of youth gambling through the Gift Responsibly campaign.”
Additional information can be found at https://mnapg.org/youth-gambling/, where visitors can learn more, order brochures or request a community presentation on a variety of issues relating to problem gambling and gambling addiction.
About Minnesota Alliance on Problem Gambling
About Minnesota Alliance on Problem Gambling
Minnesota Alliance on Problem is a nonprofit, gambling-neutral organization dedicated to improving the lives of Minnesotans affected by problem gambling. A 501 (c)(3) nonprofit, MNAPG is funded by membership fees, financial and in-kind donations, and state and private grants. MNAPG serves as Minnesota’s affiliate to the National Council on Problem Gambling.
About Minnesota State Lottery
The Minnesota Lottery raises money for programs that positively impact the lives of Minnesotans. It offers uniquely Minnesotan games of chance that are held to the highest standard of integrity and security. Since 1990, the Lottery has returned more than $3.6 billion to programs that benefit all Minnesotans, including the state’s most precious natural resources, education, health care and more.
About the National Council on Problem Gambling
The National Council on Problem Gambling (NCPG) is neutral on legalized gambling. Based in Washington DC, NCPG is the only national nonprofit organization that seeks to minimize the economic and social costs associated with gambling addiction. If you or someone you know may have a gambling problem, contact the National Problem Gambling Helpline, which offers hope and help without stigma or shame. Call or text 1-800-GAMBLER or visit www.1800gamblerchat.org. Help is available 24/7 – it is free and confidential.
About International Center for Youth Gambling Problems and High-Risk Behaviors at McGill University
For over 20 years, the International Centre for Youth Gambling Problems and High-Risk Behaviours at McGill University has been at the forefront of leading-edge research aimed at identifying and understanding the critical factors related to youth gambling issues.
Minnesota Alliance on Problem Gambling community educator Sonja Mertz provides a glimpse into what it’s like fielding a range of conversations when she exhibits around the state.
When I work an exhibit table, I never know what to expect when people approach me. I receive a variety of comments. Some people will tell me, “Life is a gamble.” Others just want to make conversation. “I don’t have a problem with gambling,” they’ll tell me, or “I only take $100 to the casino and when it’s gone, I leave.” Some people might think I am taking an informal inventory on gambling habits. “I’m worried about my mom’s gambling.” Some people are looking for resources…something to encourage a conversation with a loved one. Still others are close, but not quite ready to get the help they need, saying, “I know I have a problem, but I’m having too much fun right now.” Some people need someone to be real with…someone who knows the language. And sometimes I purposely walk away from the table to give the hesitant person a chance to pick up a brochure without having to say anything to the smiling lady who might look too eager to speak with them.
My recent opportunities to host exhibit tables have included some diverse events — a celebration of fathers and families in North Minneapolis, a resource fair for senior citizens in St. Cloud, a conference on Adverse Childhood Experiences for mental health professionals and educators, a resource-sharing celebration for people in recovery from substance misuse, and the Fiesta Latina in St. Paul. The attendees at these events might look different from each other, but their needs are the same. They are all interested in strengthening their communities and keeping their families and loved ones healthy. The conversations that I have at these events assist my work at MNAPG by helping me to understand what types of resources are needed in various communities and by helping our organization to shape future messaging about the harms of gambling and what should be done to reduce that harm.
I also had the opportunity in August to travel to some casinos in central Minnesota and meet with some Human Resources staff members. MNAPG provided boxes of our new brochures and new hotline stickers. Our hope is to build relationships with each casino in Minnesota to work toward maintaining healthy customers and provide resources for their patrons who need help with their gambling behavior.
September, October and November are the busiest conference months for MNAPG. Susan and I will be presenting and/or exhibiting at least twelve different events, not including stand-alone presentations and our own MNAPG Conference in November.
As varied as all these interactions may be, we look forward to having those conversations.
Here are some common themes we noted from the gaming industry during Responsible Gaming Education Month, led by the American Gaming Association.
1. There is a widening consensus within the gaming industry acknowledging their role in minimizing gambling harms. Increasingly advanced technology is providing opportunities to create tools that could help better inform players of the risks they are taking in real time. If operators wish to sustain their business, adopting effective responsible gambling tools will be necessary. Customers will be expecting it.
2. The current thinking is that collecting a wide swath of information from every player will provide greater insights into their behavior and suggest how tools can be designed to minimize harms. Most commonly sited tools are money and time limits. Giving the player tools to set before play begins will offer a line of defense to prevent an individual from taking too many risks. As technology advances, tools are available that learn how players use the machines. The information helps the operator better understand their customers’ behavior. Software already exists that allows an operator to provide a personalized message to each player based on their patterns of play.
3. Responsible gambling must also be raised for those who design games. If the gambling industry wants to continue being categorized as entertainment, games cannot be designed to be predatory. Stricter regulations must be developed to ensure the games that arrive on the floor of a casino or in an app are not designed to create harm.
4. Some in the gaming industry see the embracing of responsible gambling as a threat. It will take more time to convince certain operators that adopting effective responsible gambling tools will lead to greater sustainability of their operations. Partnerships between advocates of problem gambling, regulators, game developers and operators will be key to ensuring effective ways to minimize harm.
As the pandemic turns endemic, MNAPG has had more opportunity to do in-person outreach. Here’s a look at some of the recent efforts undertaken by Sonja Mertz, MNAPG’s community educator, and Susan Sheridan Tucker, MNAPG’s executive director.
Presentations ºFebruary 2022: A virtual presentation for 20 staff members of the University of Minnesota Duluth Health Services, which included nursing, mental health and administrative staff members.
ºMarch 2022: Susan was excited to present to Kevin Spading’s class on Problem Gambling. Kevin has been on the forefront of presenting at least some content on problem gambling to his students for years. This year marks his first full semester offering problem gambling.
ºApril 2022: A presentation at the Metro State University Recovery Conference that focused on gambling and college students. The presentation was well received.
Exhibits With conferences beginning to return to their normal formats, we had the opportunity to exhibit at the Minnesota Social Services Association and the Minnesota Psychological Association conferences this spring. In an effort to reach less traditional audiences, MNAPG has also been exhibiting at more community-based events, including senior citizen health expos, the Minnesota Parent Teacher Association Conference, the Military Mental Health Conference at Camp Ripley, and the Minneapolis Community Connections Conference.
A Seat at the Table In April, Sonja had the opportunity to join the Minnesota Suicide Prevention Taskforce, housed under the Department of Health. This will be our opportunity to bring awareness about the impact that suicide plays in problem gambling and to ensure that language about problem gambling and gambling disorder is included in strategic planning for the
2023-2027 Minnesota State Suicide Prevention Plan.
Susan was recently appointed to the Hennepin County Local Advisory Council on Adult Mental Health. This group has been meeting for over two decades and has provided the county with significant feedback and input on its mental health services. As Hennepin County continues to identify where the gaps are in mental health services, Susan is advocating for awareness about the prevalence of co-morbidity of gambling disorder and mental health issues.
MNAPG will continue to explore opportunities in which we can be a voice at the table and increase awareness of gambling disorder.
If you’d like to have MNAPG provide a presentation to a group or at a conference, pleasecontactSonja Mertzatsmertz@mnapg.org.