Written by: Therese Kattner
Although most student organizations are short on time and funding, they can still find ways to help prevent problem gambling among group members and in the wider campus community.
Kristy Wanner is the primary developer and former coordinator of Keeping the Score, a coalition of 19 Missouri universities dedicated to preventing problem gambling among students. Keeping the Score is funded by a grant from a state substance abuse consortium housed at the University of Missouri.
Not every program or organization enjoys this kind of support, Wanner recognizes, so here she shares four low-cost strategies for helping students avoid problem gambling.
1) Integrate gambling prevention with other prevention work.
Whether your aim is to prevent gambling problems among organization members or to reach the wider campus community as part of your organization’s mission to serve campus, Wanner suggests adding problem-gambling material to material to any work your group might already be doing to prevent other student problems, such as alcohol abuse or debt.
Print brochures, for example, can be made available where other health and prevention information is available. Wanner also recommends hanging posters where students are accustomed to seeing other informational posters. (To view some of Keeping the Score’s print material, visit http://wellness.missouri.edu/Gambling/order.html.)
Incorporating gambling into other prevention work makes sense because risky behaviors such as problem gambling, alcohol overconsumption, and tobacco use are correlated, Wanner says.
In addition, seeing problem gambling among information about other risky behavior helps people understand that it’s an issue that needs attention.
“Probably the one thing that I found most difficult [in founding Keeping the Score] was that people just don’t recognize gambling as an issue,” Wanner says. “Gambling’s so ubiquitous and ingrained socially that people don’t necessarily know it can become an addiction.”
2) Use the resources that state and national organizations already make available.
Most states have a problem-gambling coalition or alliance that will share educational materials as well as provide speakers who can visit campus, Wanner says. She recommends contacting the National Council on Problem Gambling (www.ncpgambling.org) to find your state’s program.
The National Council on Problem Gambling also has materials available at no charge atwww.ncpgambling.org/i4a/pages/Index.cfm?pageID=3396.
3) Partner with campus departments.
Wanner recommends forming alliances with the following departments:
Get a comprehensive look at how to spot gambling addiction, and outline important steps universities can take to address the problem in terms of referral, treatment and prevention programming. Find out more.
4) Take advantage of National Gambling Awareness Week.
The annual National Gambling Awareness Week (www.npgaw.org) is strategically placed between the Super Bowl and the March Madness basketball tournaments, so it occurs at a time when gambling is already on many people’s minds.
“We’re all being asked to do more with less, so I encourage people to take advantage of that one week to provide awareness if they can’t do it at any other time,” she says.
Several promotional tools (such as public service announcements for radio and television and posters and brochures) are available at no cost through the awareness week’s website at www.npgaw.org/tools/tv.asp.
“People … are so busy, there’s so much on their plates. I think that having the week is such a great way to target your prevention and make an impact without having to do it year-round, if you can’t,” Wanner says.
This article is adapted from an article that appeared in Student Affairs Leader, 38.2 (2010), 1-2.
For an additional resource on this topic, check out our online seminar:
Gambling Addiction: Policy, Prevention and Referral.
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