Geoffrey Locke is a psychotherapist and adjunct professor at Smith College,” I think it’s very serious,” says Locke.
Locke has done research on compulsive gambling among college students.
The problem he says can come on quickly,” A problem gambling disorder can happen just with one big win, a person could just walk into a casino, they could play a five dollar slot for the first time, win say two thousand dollars, and they can become an instant problem gambler,” says Locke.
With three casinos coming to Massachusetts including one in Western Massachusetts, Professor Locke says the number of compulsive gamblers will increase.
He hopes casinos will be proactive in dealing with the issue,”I hope they train their employees and prevention efforts and they’re able to spot problem gamblers , I also hope they provide phone numbers for support or help if people need it,” says Locke.
Locke says people can have fun gambling if they keep it under control.
So how do you know when you’ve crossed the line into being a compulsive gambler,”Someone may be gambling more than they planed to , they may start lying about their gambling to their family, they may start stealing money from an employer or from family members to gamble,” says Locke.
Professor Locke says his research shows that about 8 percent of the population that he surveyed had a gambling problem.