MNAPG Launches Community Leader Training

MNAPG Launches Community Leader Training

Wanted: community leaders interested in helping to educate and advocate for those in their community experiencing problem gambling.

MNAPG is in the process of organizing problem gambling awareness training sessions for community leaders to whom others turn for advice. The training is free and assists community leaders in helping others find the resources they need if they have a gambling problem.

The goal is to help those who need treatment get it as soon as possible. Research shows that it often takes seven to ten years before someone with a gambling problem seeks help. The earlier someone gets treatment, the lower the likelihood they will endure financial ruin, lose jobs and relationships, or experience a despair that ends in suicide.

In addition to helping people get help, community leaders are also in a position to reduce the stigma associated with gambling addiction. The goal of community leader training is to increase empathy and build knowledge about available resources rather than to provide professional treatment.

MNAPG will be offering the free, six-hour online training in partnership with Jody Bechtold from The Better Institute. Jody is a professional coach, gambling addiction expert, international speaker and trainer, and a Myers-Briggs Type Indicator ® certified facilitator.

Those taking the training will learn:

• Who is at risk for gambling disorder.

• The impacts on the family from gambling disorders.

• The often-overlapping occurrence of mental health problems, substance abuse and suicide.

• The need to understand finances in gambling disorders.

• Why it’s important to understand gambling-motivated crime.

• Choices for recovery and healing.

Following completion of the six-hour training, trainees will meet with MNAPG and other trainees for a two-hour in-person session to address questions or concerns. MNAPG’s goal is to build a network of trained leaders around the state to inform what additional resources and training may be needed to build greater awareness about gambling addiction.

Those interested in this training or desiring to learn more should contact Adina Black at Remember, this training is offered at no cost.

Why Gamblers Use Multiple Operators

Why Gamblers Use Multiple Operators

The key reason data collection is necessary is because many gamblers use multiple operators. Here’s a look at why:

Sports gamblers use multiple operators to get the best odds or to take advantage of frequent bonuses that are multiplied by the number of accounts they have. The graphic above from for a first-round NFL playoff game between Philadelphia and Tampa Bay is instructive.

A gambler shopping around will notice several gaps in the odds and promotional opportunities:

• If you are a Caesars customer and you want to bet on the Eagles to win, you would have to risk $160 to win $100 based on the -160 odds. However, by just taking a minute to open a DraftKings account, you would only have to risk $148 to win the same $100 due to the better odds of -148, a potential loss savings of $12 on a single bet.

• A DraftKings customer who wants to bet on the Buccaneers would win only $124 on a $100 wager, compared to winning $135 if they wager on Caesars.

• Finally, by signing up for the seven sportsbooks listed in the graphic (some states have 20 or more operators) there are over $3,000 in bonuses available to the gambler (see sign-up offers as noted at top of the image).

These differences in odds add up to a lot over time, and for someone struggling with their gambling, they may make much larger bets spread out over a dozen or more accounts, with each operator thinking they are only dealing with a recreational customer due to the lack of data visibility of the volume and frequency of their bets.

Anonymized Gambler Data Collection Key t o Advancing Problem Gambling Detection

Anonymized Gambler Data Collection Key t o Advancing Problem Gambling Detection

As states and gambling operators grapple with how to best identify gamblers exhibiting possible problem gambling behavior, the need to gather comprehensive, consolidated and anonymous gambler data is becoming increasingly apparent. This is particularly important because an individual’s gambling activity may be spread across a number of platforms and operators (see page 3), making it essentially impossible for an individual operator to obtain a snapshot of a gambler’s total spending.

ID Pair, a New Jersey-based organization whose mission is to create responsible gambling solutions for operators, state regulators and others, is developing tools to analyze the entirety of a gambler’s activity, providing a better opportunity for intervention.

“The task of a sports book is to make sure customers are behaving in sustainable ways,” says Jonathan Aiwazian, CEO and founder of ID Pair. “But how can they do that if they only see a fraction of the data?”

ID Pair performs two fundamental tasks. First, it anonymizes gambler data as it amasses it across gambling operators. Secondly, it runs an analysis on the “single view” of a gambler to identify high-risk behavior, thus allowing operators to send appropriate cautionary communications and reminders to the player.

“Ultimately, it’s a customer’s decision whether to embrace or ignore messages about high-risk behavior, but at least the operator can step in with actions that emphasize long-term health and sustainability,” says Jonathan, who previously worked for several operators and observed that they were limited in what they could see — hence the need for a system to bridge the gap in data from one operator to another.

Jonathan notes that operators have historically been protective of customer data and apprehensive about sharing it. However, he thinks that attitude is thawing in light of the need to cultivate a sustainable customer base. “I think that operators are seeing that it’s actually good for the industry and gives them a way to work together,” says Jonathan.

Europe, which traditionally has been years ahead of the U.S. when it comes to building tools to identify problem gamblers, has imposed regulations to ensure that operators work together. It may be that U.S. gambling operators can avoid the need for heavy regulation if they begin working together.

ID Pair works directly with regulators or operators, depending on the state and where the interest in strengthening consumer protections comes from. “It’s most beneficial when there’s legislative support so that regulators can create rules rather than start from scratch,” says Jonathan. “In states where there’s more backing, there’s more opportunity to do more with advancing responsible gambling.”

As Minnesota continues to consider legalizing sports gambling — along with casino gambling already in place — it’s an opportunity to establish a structure early on. “States just beginning to legalize more aspects of gambling have an early opportunity to create data that will help them understand how legalization is changing behavior, and ultimately inform future policy,” says Jonathan. “Without data, there is no visibility. If states creative incentives for operators to share information, it’s better for everyone in the end.”

For its efforts to promote responsible gambling, ID Pair received the Play Well Award from the Responsible Gambling Council and Flutter Entertainment, FanDuel’s parent company.

2023 MNPGA Conference Connecting. Reflecting. Moving Forward. Prevention + Recovery = Hope — 2023

2023 MNPGA Conference Connecting. Reflecting. Moving Forward. Prevention + Recovery = Hope — 2023

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:

o Resources 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.

o The 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.

o Using 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.

o Working 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.

o The 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

Sept. 18

Hilton Minneapolis/Bloomington, 3900 American Blvd W., Bloomington, MN

$30 (free to those in recovery)

Registration deadline: September 8

For More

Register and and learn more HERE.

Laura’s Story

Laura’s Story

The first time I gambled, when I was 18, I considered it simply entertainment. I might spend $20-$40 and go with some friends. It never occurred to me that gambling could become a debilitating addiction.

However, while I was in college, the impact of several events unsettled me. First, my mother’s longtime partner left her, leaving emotional wounds for all of us to deal with. And not long after that, I learned that a young girl who I had mentored died by suicide. I tried to focus and managed to graduate, but I never had a chance to truly grieve these losses while in school.

After graduating, I eventually moved back to Minnesota in 2017 and got engaged. That’s when I started to explore gambling. By the time I got married in July of 2018, I was living a double life with gambling. I remember telling my husband at the time that I felt more married to slot machines than to him.

I had been looking forward to marriage and the opportunity to be part of his family, as I was adopted and longed to be loved and experience a sense of belonging. Unfortunately, although I initially felt accepted by my husband’s family in the beginning, I eventually found it hard to be myself.

All of these struggles — rejection, abandonment, not feeling I belonged or was loved — drove me to gamble as an escape. Gambling offered a “fake happy place” for me to numb my pain and just be. I felt emotions on the outside but had deep pain inside myself. When I gambled, it felt fun, but as time progressed, I was exhausted. I felt like a robot with an altered mind and body

At first, I gambled for just a few hours. But before long, I was gambling for longer periods of time, spending $300-$500 two to three times a month. Things progressed quickly. Within a year, I was losing $1,000- $2,000 two to three times a week.

I would drive to Mystic Lake no matter what the weather was like. As I drove, I’d constantly hear a voice telling me that everything would be fine — but it was hard to numb that voice.

My gambling escalated even more. I spent a lot of my inheritance from my grandparents, approximately half a million dollars in two years

My health started going downhill. I stopped taking important medications and stopped eating, losing 30 pounds over two years. I let go and didn’t care, as if I wanted to die that way.

Well into my addiction my morals became very foggy and distorted. My socializing with friends became more isolating. I lied, I stole from my fiancé, used my inheritance and other forms of getting money (annuities, life insurance), and sold my most prized possessions. In the end, the last things I sold were my flute from childhood and a camera my grandma had bought me. I was desperate and needed money, it was my fix.

I lost my job in December 2019 and had a mental breakdown on January 2, 2020. I knew I wanted to get help and be in a safe place. My mom grabbed my childhood blanket and bear to help comfort me. I told her to take me to the ER. I had suicidal thoughts. I was done living.

I told my mother all about my gambling. She said my eyes were a different color during my breakdown and wanted to protect me from the kitchen knives. Eventually, she got me to a safe place, the hospital. I ended up celebrating my 33rd birthday in the hospital, and my mom, aunt and husband came to celebrate. I never thought I’d be where I was, but I needed to feel safe and heard in a protected environment.

It was during my hospital stay that we found a program for inpatient care for gambling addiction, the Vanguard Center at Project Turnabout in Granite Falls. I went there shortly after leaving the hospital. It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life.

As we drove, I noticed an eagle flying next to the car. For me, it was a symbol of a higher power. I know that a “higher power” can push some people away, but for me it’s about nature

At Vanguard, I learned a lot about addiction in general but also gambling addiction. I related to the 20 questions in the GA yellow combo book and, more and more, realized I did have a gambling problem.

Being in treatment for five weeks, I learned that gambling addiction doesn’t define me, even if it happened in my life. I learned more about how much more pain I had endured in life and its impact on my self-esteem and self-confidence. In treatment, I have a relapse prevention plan, and support has helped me continue to make my recovery number one. I learned how to advocate for myself and what I need, knowing my toolbox of coping skills when things get overwhelming and learning to be kind and gentle to my new self. Recovery is challenging but I tell myself I do the best I can do in that day and give myself credit. It’s truly okay to ask for help. I’m not alone anymore.

Sharing my story is part of the healing I do every day, part of my recovery. I hope that sharing my story can help others and be a reminder that there is help out there.


Gambling on Professional Wrestling?

Gambling on Professional Wrestling?

The proliferation of gambling — in all its various forms and venues — continues. Hard as it might be to believe, one can bet on events such as weather forecasts, celebrity deaths, ferret bingo, the next pope and the Oscars. And now … wait for it … professional wrestling.

Yes, professional wrestling, where outcomes are scripted in advance. While MNAPG is officially gambling-neutral, it was hard not to cast a questioning glance at the WWE’s (World Wrestling Entertainment) March announcement that it’s looking to have its wrestling matches available for gambling.

Aside from the security issues involved in ensuring that the scripts are not made public until match date — a situation that would seem ripe with temptations for wrestlers to receive payoffs from gamblers under the table — one can also question whether gambling on such outcomes truly constitutes gambling.

The classic definition of gambling is “the wagering of something of value on a random event (chance) with the intent of winning something else of value.” One can question whether the element of chance is truly part of an event where the outcome has been predetermined.

This underscores the fact that gambling is everywhere — and it’s ever-important for those concerned about problem gambling to be on their toes.

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