HomeIllinois Sports Betting NewsIllinois Bill Aims to Raise Awareness of the Risks of Problem Gambling

Illinois Bill Aims to Raise Awareness of the Risks of Problem Gambling

March is "Problem Gambling Awareness Month" in the U.S., as proclaimed by the National Council on Problem Gambling - a timely time on the calendar, given all the promotions urging fans to wager on the NCAA basketball March Madness tournament. That has led to a variety of efforts in several states to address the issue - including Illinois.

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In the latter case, state Senator Bill Cunningham has introduced a bill that would add a clause to the state’s Sports Wagering Act of 2019 to “require an online sports wagering licensee to, after every 10 wagers made online by an individual, display a pop-up message directing that individual to websites on gambling addiction help.”

The bill was approved by the state Senate Health and Human Services Committee last week and now is headed toward a vote by the full Senate.

“Illinois has been a leader in the regulation of sports betting, and we need to ensure that we are also addressing the potential harms associated with gambling addiction,” Cunningham said in a statement. “By requiring sports wagering apps to display a pop-up message with resources for gambling addiction assistance, we can help individuals who may be struggling with problem gambling access the help they need.”

The Sports Wagering Act already requires Illinois betting apps to display a statement about obtaining assistance with gambling problems. But Cunningham said that this bill “goes a step further to ensure that individuals who may be struggling with problem gambling have additional access to resources and support.”

The message would direct individuals to a website with information about the voluntary self-exclusion program that has been established by the Illinois Gaming Board and the Department of Lottery. The program enables individuals to prohibit themselves from establishing a sports wagering account.

“Problem gambling can have a devastating impact on individuals and their families, and we need to do everything we can to prevent and address it,” Cunningham added. “Illinois will continue to be a leader in the modern sports gambling industry, and we need to make sure that those who need help won’t have to ask how to find it.”

The “Are you really winning” campaign was launched in December

In December, the state’s Department of Human Services launched the “Are You Really Winning?” campaign which is designed to build awareness of problem gambling and to promote helpline services for those experiencing gambling problems.

According to research by the Nationwide Health Resources in Action group, 4% of Illinois residents have a gambling disorder and another 7% are at risk of developing a gambling disorder.

The campaign, which makes its presence on TV, radio, and social media, attempts to educate the general public on the signs and symptoms of gambling disorder and on the resources available to those in need of support.

The campaign highlights the signs of problem gambling by asking:

  • Have you ever felt restless, on edge, or irritable when trying to stop or cut down on gambling?
  • Have you ever tried to ask people for money to help with financial problems caused by gambling?
  • Have you tried to hide how much you have gambled from your family or friends?

“It is so important that we continue to let Illinois residents know about the signs of problem gambling,” said IDHS Secretary Grace B. Hou. “I hope this campaign will continue to raise awareness of the effective treatment and recovery options available to people experiencing problem gambling disorder.”

The confidential helpline is available at all hours and can be reached by dialing 1-800-GAMBLER. Help is also available through the website AreYouReallyWinning.com or by texting GAMB to 833234. You can also read our article about Responsible gambling in Illinois.