Compared to some states, North Carolina does not offer a huge number of legal gambling options. However, the North Carolina Education Lottery is especially popular, in part because of the ability to purchase tickets online. So too are the state’s tribal casinos, and lawmakers continue to consider the possibility of allowing online sports betting in the state.
Even if North Carolina isn’t a gambling mecca like Nevada or New Jersey, the state still works to promote responsible gambling with programs and resources to prevent and treat problem gambling. While gambling can be a fun and entertaining recreation for many adults, it can also be destructive for those unable to moderate their gambling or who fall victim to gambling addiction.
If you’re looking for information and resources regarding responsible gambling in North Carolina, you’ve come to the right place. This page has information about responsible gambling as well as links and resources for those in North Carolina seeking information and help.
North Carolina resources for responsible gambling
There are a number of state-specific resources in North Carolina for those seeking information about or assistance with gambling responsibly. These NC responsible gambling tools include:
North Carolina Problem Gambling Program
From the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, the North Carolina Problem Gambling Program provides a number of problem gambling treatment and recovery services — online and in-person education and training for counselors, prevention and outreach programs, and media awareness.
More Than a Game
The North Carolina DHHS also supports More Than a Game, a comprehensive gambling assistance program that offers three ways to receive immediate support:
- Phone: 877-718-5543
- Text: Send phrase morethanagamenc to 53342
- Live chat: Via morthanagame.nc.gov
More Than a Game puts those in need in touch with a variety of free resources supporting problem gambling prevention, outreach, education, treatment, and recovery. It sponsors training events and provides other information and support to clinicians and educators.
The program also provides grants to schools, including a program called Stacked Deck designed to implement gambling prevention programs in middle and high schools as well as for communities. Another grant is available to colleges and universities in the state to promote research into problem gambling as well as outreach to students, teachers, and staff.
North Carolina Council on Problem Gambling
The North Carolina Council on Problem Gambling, headquartered in Greensboro, is an affiliate of the National Council on Problem Gambling.
The NCCPG focuses on helping compulsive gamblers, and their families find counseling and assistance. It offers consultation and training programs and other forms of support.
The NCCPG also invites individuals and groups to become members by making tax-deductible donations to help fund the group’s services. For example, Harrah’s Entertainment and the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, which operate two casinos in North Carolina, are corporate sponsors of the NCCPG.
North Carolina Education Lottery’s Play Smart program
The North Carolina Education Lottery provides its own set of resources designed to promote responsible gambling, all of which are part of its Play Smart program.
The NC Lottery website describes Play Smart as “the coach that always has your back — educating, encouraging and empowering you to make smart decisions when you play the lottery.”
Such support includes educational videos about setting a budget and knowing your limits, an interactive spending calculator, a list of tips and other advice about how to prevent lottery playing from having a negative impact on your life and more.
The “Know the Game” and “Bust the Myths” sections provide insight regarding the lottery’s odds and probabilities and how not to be fooled by common beliefs regarding games of chance. There is also a problem gambling quiz with 10 yes/no questions designed to help players assess themselves.
The program also connects players with ways to get support, such as the More Than a Game program. The NC Lottery also helps fund the North Carolina Council on Problem Gambling.
National responsible gambling resources
North Carolina gamblers can also find help via several national programs. Here are the most prominent national organizations focused on helping those affected by problem gambling:
- National Council on Problem Gambling: The council is responsible for the National Problem Gambling Helpline Network, which fields a 24/7 phone line at 800-522-4700. Representatives are available in other ways, too, including via live chat at ncpgambling.org/chat.
- Gamblers Anonymous: Similar to Alcoholics Anonymous, this national organization features a 12-step self-help program and also hosts weekly support meetings (meeting times and locations are available on its website). The organization also has a 24/7 gambling problem hotline at 855-222-5542.
- Gam-Anon: Like Gamblers Anonymous, Gam-Anon similarly employs a fellowship model. However, Gam-Anon’s focus is providing support to family members and friends of problem gamblers.
- Gamtalk: Another useful resource is Gamtalk, an online discussion forum that connects problem gamblers with one another to provide support.
Defining responsible gambling
While many people may think “responsible gambling” simply refers to gambling sensibly and not taking undue risks, the phrase has a particular meaning and importance in the gambling industry.
Sometimes appearing as just the abbreviation “RG,” responsible gambling refers not just to behaving responsibly while gambling, but also a range of practices among gambling providers to make gambling a positive experience and to lessen the likelihood of problem gambling.
In fact, when it comes to gambling providers, many times their licenses require them to promote and practice RG in order to retain the right to offer legal gambling in North Carolina.
How gamblers can practice responsible gambling
There are various guidelines to follow when playing the NC Lottery or gambling in North Carolina casinos:
- Setting limits when gambling (and sticking to them).
- Keeping track of how much you spend when you gamble.
- Avoiding gambling with money you need for essentials like rent, bills, food or gas.
- Not borrowing money with which to gamble.
- Steering clear of gambling when feeling stressed or anxious.
- When winning, avoiding the temptation to “let it ride” and gamble more.
- When losing, avoiding the temptation to “chase your losses” and gamble more.
- Recognizing you can always seek help if gambling is becoming problematic or causing you negative consequences.
How operators can practice responsible gambling
On the flip side, those who work at casinos, for the lottery or with other gambling providers can promote responsible gambling among their customers. Here are some of the actions they can take:
- Posting accurate odds and information so the risks are clear to gamblers.
- Providing additional guidance about how to gamble responsibly.
- Not allowing anyone who is drunk, impaired or underage to gamble.
- Establishing rules and procedures that discourage unsafe gambling-related behavior.
- Training staff to identify the signs of problem gambling and to act accordingly.
- Allowing players to voluntarily exclude themselves from gambling, and making sure to not serve anyone who has done that.
- Not promoting gambling in ways that make light of problem gambling or destructive behavior that gambling can cause.
- Showing patrons how to find resources to learn about and receive help with responsible gambling.
When does gambling become problem gambling?
Problem gambling can be challenging to define, which in turn can make it difficult to recognize in others or even in oneself. Any instance of gambling causing harm to a person or to that person’s relationships is an example of problem gambling.
However, it isn’t always easy to detect problem gambling, particularly if the harm is relatively minor. But small issues can grow into bigger ones, sometimes leading to particularly grievous outcomes like the loss of one’s savings or livelihood, the accumulation of insurmountable debt or significant damage to one’s physical and mental health.
Making detection even more difficult is the fact that problem gamblers often work to conceal their problem from family and friends. Some also even manage to hide their gambling problem from themselves, or at least convince themselves to avoid admitting the problem to others and/or seek help.
Here are some common signs of problem gambling:
- Lying about your gambling to others.
- Hiding your gambling from others.
- Spending more time gambling than you intended.
- Spending more money gambling than you intended.
- Letting gambling distract from other activities or responsibilities.
- Making unexpected withdrawals or cash advances.
- Borrowing money from others, especially in large quantities or unexpectedly.
- Selling possessions to raise money.
- Failing to pay bills on time or at all.
- Having unexplained absences at work or school.
- Becoming lackadaisical about your hygiene or health.
- Experiencing feelings of guilt about gambling.
- Enduring extreme emotional ups and downs when gambling.
- Acting irritable or erratic when not gambling.
- Growing defensive or angry if someone asks about your gambling.
Why responsible gambling is important
For many adults in North Carolina and elsewhere, gambling represents a fun and entertaining activity. Unfortunately, gambling can also be a source of pain and genuine harm when individuals fail to be responsible and indulge too greatly without appreciating the risks.
Everyone who has anything to do with gambling — whether gamblers themselves, friends and family members of those who gamble, or those who provide legal gambling — needs to be aware of the importance of gambling responsibly.
Always be mindful of the potential for gambling to turn from a positive to a negative, and keep an eye out for symptoms of problem gambling in others and in yourself. Become aware of the signs, and also become familiar with the resources for North Carolina gamblers.