Texas Responsible Gambling

All over the country, ways to legally gamble are expanding.

Texas hasn’t been isolated from this situation, as there are talks in the state legislature about authorizing commercial casinos and/or legalizing sports betting. Even if that doesn’t happen, Texans still have access to legal gambling through the Texas lottery and a tribal casino in Eagle Pass.

Several bordering states, like Louisiana, New Mexico, and Oklahoma, offer a much more expansive gambling industry too.

For that reason, it’s important for Texas residents to understand the issue of compulsive gambling and the resources available for people with that problem. If the state does expand legal gambling options for its citizens, this education becomes far more crucial.

Here is a rundown of the resources available in the Lone Star State, and the best ways to address the issue as gambling expands there.

What is responsible gambling?

This term has a little different meaning depending on which side of the gaming transaction you’re on.

For gambling companies, this means not taking advantage of people with compulsive issues. Gambling companies do this by:

  • Allowing gamblers to set personal betting limits
  • Making odds available and easy to understand
  • Not extending credit to customers
  • Opting not to advertise in ways that suggest gamblers are likely to make money off their play

Most of the onus for playing responsibly, however, falls upon gamblers’ shoulders. Ways to play responsibly include:

  • Don’t gamble after drinking alcohol or taking certain prescription medications if they can alter your judgment
  • Make sure you understand the rules of the game and your odds prior to putting down your wager
  • Only gamble an amount of money you can easily afford to lose because you almost undoubtedly will lose it
  • Set a budget before starting to play and then stick to it

What is problem gambling?

Simply put, this is when gambling becomes a problem. This can look very different from one person to the next. Even if an individual doesn’t gamble away all their money, they may still have a compulsive gambling issue. If it interferes with their life in any negative way, that’s a gambling problem.

Compulsive gambling issues can affect anyone. The problem doesn’t discriminate based on age, education, gender, race, or wealth. For that reason, there is no shame in having a compulsive gambling issue, only in not seeking assistance when that becomes the case.

Like with most other compulsive behaviors, there are some common signs that point toward an issue. For gambling, these include:

  • Avoiding discussing gambling activity because of feelings of guilt or shame
  • Borrowing money to gamble
  • Chasing gambling losses by gambling more
  • Constantly thinking about gambling
  • Losing interest in normal activities or hobbies
  • Skipping out on family activities or work to gamble
  • Stealing money or pawning possessions to gamble
  • Using money that should go toward investing or paying bills to gamble

If any of those symptoms sound typical of you or someone you know, the best thing to do is to seek assistance. Many people with compulsive gambling issues have been able to establish healthy habits and control their impulses in this area with help.

Responsible and problem gambling resources in Texas

Since there are so few legal gambling avenues in Texas in comparison to many other states, the state doesn’t provide a lot of social services in this regard.

However, that doesn’t mean Texans with this issue are on their own. There are resources available not just for those with compulsive gambling issues but their family and friends as well. The resources include:

  • Gamblers Anonymous: A virtual and in-person support group for people with compulsive gambling issues
  • Gam-Anon: Same as above, but for the loved ones of people with compulsive gambling issues
  • GamTalk: An internet forum through which people with compulsive gambling issues can support each other around the clock and seven days a week
  • National Problem Gambling Helpline: Via chat, text or phone (at 800-522-4700), people with compulsive gambling issues can get information about counseling and other forms of treatment available in their areas
  • Texas Dept. of State Health Service: The state provides resources for Texans with all kinds of mental health needs, including compulsive gambling issues

Hopefully, if the state government does expand legal gambling, it will also expand services for responsible gambling. This might include a voluntary self-exclusion program and state standards for advertising.

Until then, this is the state of responsible gambling in the Lone Star State.