The holiday season is here – bringing with it a lot of happiness and a lot of stress. The costs of holiday fun can be overwhelming – and if you or someone you love is a problem gambler, that stress can put you both at greater risk. Problem gamblers could be tempted to win big to pay for holiday expenses or to use gambling as an escape from the depression many people feel this time of year. In addition, well-meaning family and friends may give lottery tickets as gifts. While the season may bring triggers for some problem gamblers, there are steps that can be taken to ensure a safer holiday season.
Develop and stick to a budget.
Determine in advance how much you can spend on holiday activities and gifts. Put someone else in charge of your finances if you’re concerned about your urge to gamble. You can also talk with your bank and credit card lenders about putting limits on spending and withdrawal amounts during the holiday season.
Determine what events are safe.
If the holiday party is at or near the local casino, don’t attend. If family gatherings include activities like a poker game, let them know you can’t stay for the game, but you would love to stop by for a visit before or after. If your friends get together to watch holiday sporting events or bowl games, remember to keep yourself safe first.
Be mindful of gift-giving and receiving.
Let people know what’s on your list. Make sure that family and friends know not to give you holiday gifts in the form of cash, scratch-off tickets or other gambling games. Likewise, don’t buy gambling items as gifts for others – especially those who are underage.
The holidays are a time for celebrating. So, play it safe. Separate yourself from the temptations that could trigger problem gambling. For more responsible gambling information and resources, visit BeforeYouBet.org.