Michigan officials worry self-isolation may exacerbate gambling problems

Hotlines, resources available to those struggling with gambling problems amid the coronavirus pandemic

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LANSING, Mich. – Michigan officials are warning of a potential increase in gambling activity -- especially among those with gambling addictions -- amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

MORE: Coronavirus in Michigan: Here’s where we stand today

According to officials, isolating at home under the state’s extended stay-at-home order may leave individuals with idle time, frustrations and anxiety.

Officials believe that even as casinos are closed due to the pandemic, the lottery, online gaming and sports betting can still exacerbate unhealthy gambling behaviors during this crisis.

“We know that even with decreased opportunities for gambling, stress and anxiety can increase the urge to gamble for someone who struggles with a gambling addiction,” said Alia Lucas, Gambling Disorder Program specialist with the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS). “Despite social distancing-related closures, online and sports betting remain concerns, and we want community members to know there is help for anyone trying to manage urges to gamble.”

The Michigan Problem Gambling Hotline is available to individuals that struggle with gambling addiction. If you or someone you love has gambled, or borrowed money to gamble, in order to solve financial difficulties or combat worry, trouble, boredom or loneliness, officials urge you to call 820-270-7117.

The hotline is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. You can also click here to learn more about gambling disorders, prevention and treatment providers from the MDHHS.

Officials say an estimated 2 million U.S. adults struggle with a gambling problem each year, and about 4-6 million have mild to moderate gambling problems.

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