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Statewide program assists in treating gambling addictions

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NORTH PLATTE, Neb. (KNOP) -As more bills regarding gambling and casinos are being introduced by Nebraska lawmakers, gambling addiction specialists are encouraging people to seek resources before more casino actions are taken. The Nebraska Gambling Assistance Program is one of the only resources to help people battling gambling addictions in our state. Unlike other addictions, gambling does not have many warning signs until it is too late.

“You can’t smell it. There are not card tracks in your arm or dice coming out of your nose, so it can go on for a very long time and be very very hidden,” said Certified Gambling Counselor Ron Felton.

Before, most gambling addicts were men. In Nebraska, experts say that half of the people who suffer from gambling addictions are women. Most people may not realize they are displaying an attachment to gambling.

“You are having an affair with the gambling because all your emotional energy and time are going right there,” said Felton.

By the time some gamblers seek help there, they are in a vulnerable state because of all of their losses.

“Family members are unaware that there is a serious gambling problem. There are unsure what is going on,” said Felton. “Spouses may misinterpret the gambling as an affair.”

For a while, there were no gamblers anonymous agencies west of Lincoln. Now, there are groups in Hastings, Grand Island, Kearney, and North Platte. Due to the coronavirus, they have begun having virtual sessions on Wednesdays from various parts of the state.

“Nebraska has been a model for other states in regards to providing resources for gambling addiction,” said Felton.

If you or someone you love are seeking assistance regarding gambling addictions, you can visit https://problemgambling.nebraska.gov/

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