WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — The Florida Council on Compulsive Gambling said it receives bump calls for help after big money lotteries, the way it does after gambling events like the Super Bowl and Kentucky Derby.
Compulsive gambling does not just hit those who frequent casinos or racetracks.
Eric Randazzo is the deputy director of the council and said a recent survey showed that 15% of all compulsive gamblers in Florida gamble exclusively on lottery games.
Some are caught up in the hype when payouts for Mega Millions or Powerball approach a billion dollars.
Randazzo said people who develop a hidden gambling addiction spend much of their earnings on lotto tickets at supermarkets or convenience stores.
“Having such a posterboard jackpot, that kind of gets people talking, that gets the hype going,” said Randazzo. “All this coverage, all this hype is exposing people to a form of gambling and something that is very accessible.”
Randazzo adds most people buying Mega Millions tickets will not become gambling addicts.
The organization has some warning signs for those who could become compulsive lottery gambling addicts.
- Buying lottery tickets when behind on other bills
- Hiding lottery tickets from family or friends.
- Winning small amounts of money, re-investing in more tickets, and never walking away with money.
If you know someone who may be prone to lottery addiction, the Florida Council on Compulsive Gambling can direct you to help.
The 24-hour helpline is 888-ADMIT-IT, or 888-236-4848. The Council also has a text line, 321- 978-0555.