With the upcoming Super Bowl the first ever being hosted in a northern city with an uncovered stadium, you can be sure that folks are not only betting which team will win — the Denver Broncos or Seattle Seahawks — but whether or not the game will played on schedule or delayed due to some significant weather event.

Great fun for the fans, a source of revenue for the bookies, and one more temptation for people who are unable to control their gambling. In advance of the big game at the Meadowlands in northern New Jersey, the Quakerbridge Road-based Council on Compulsive Gambling of New Jersey issued the following statement:

With New Jersey hosting its first Super Bowl ever, excitement is growing across the state. Even more importantly, betting is already underway, and by the time of the game many residents will have made a small bet with friends, family, co-workers, or even bookies. Sports betting may not yet be legal in New Jersey, but it definitely is here and has been for years.

For most people, a casual bet on the game is just that — a chance to have some fun and see if the Broncos or Seahawks have what it takes to go all the way. But for the compulsive or problem gambler, much more may be at stake.

This may be the last chance to get even for the season. Or perhaps gambling on football and sports has become the only thing that really matters. Maybe it also has started to interfere with other areas of life such as job, family, finances, emotional state, or thinking. Perhaps things look desperate and hopeless.

The Council on Compulsive Gambling of NJ offers a way out. We care, and we can help. Our 1-800-GAMBLER helpline is free and confidential. Anyone who thinks they might have a gambling problem (or who is concerned about someone else) can give us a call, any time of the day or night. The council offers support and information, referrals to self-help groups and free or low-cost counseling, and most importantly, hope for recovery and a new life. Ten percent of helpline calls are related to sports betting, and 35,000 people in New Jersey are believed to have similar problems.

According to Donald Weinbaum, executive director of the council, “Compulsive gambling is now recognized as an addiction, akin to alcohol or drugs. It is less obvious, but it definitely can interfere with all aspects of life. But, it doesn’t have to. We urge anyone who is hurting or struggling to reach out and talk with us. It may not be easy to do, but with that first step, things can start to change for the better.”

Weinbaum urges people to ask themselves some honest questions if they think they might have a problem:

Does gambling have priority over other activities in your life?

Does gambling take time away from family and friends?

Do you experience withdrawal symptoms when not gambling?

Does gambling affect your day to day financial condition?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, it may be time to follow through on that New Year’s resolution to cut down on gambling. Football will soon be over — maybe it is time to think about making a change. Call 1-800-GAMBLER.

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