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FORT LEE, Va. – Virginians have seen a significant increase in gambling advertisements over the past few years. They range from television ads hawking sports betting apps to billboards along interstates touting big cash payouts at the latest and greatest gaming parlors.

Gambling itself isn’t a problem. Unfortunately, though, many become addicted to it and that can have a detrimental effect on readiness. Those who find themselves unable to escape the lure of pulling a handle or placing a bet are encouraged to seek help. The overall physical and mental health of Soldiers, DA Civilians, and family members remains a top priority for the Army.

Gambling is a problem if it causes problems. Time and money lost to gambling can lead to job loss, relationship issues and legal troubles. Excessive gambling also can lead to mental health concerns including depression and anxiety, and can leave service members susceptible to extortion and radicalization.

March is Problem Gambling Awareness Month and everyone is encouraged to reach out to local resources if they feel they are being impacted by a gambling problem. If you’re concerned about your level of gambling or that of someone you care about, there is a quick quiz at www.gamblersanonymous.org/ga/content/20-questions that can help you open a conversation.

For further evaluation or assessment, service members are encouraged to contact Behavioral Health at 804-734-9623 or their assigned unit chaplain. Civilian employees and family members may contact the Employee Assistance Program at 804-931-5111 for a range of support options.

Related article, “IMCOM provides education to prevent problematic gambling,” available at www.army.mil/article/239849.