Dr Haskins: Being Prepared For Casino Gaming

March 31, 2017

Deborah Haskins“Problem gambling won’t be introduced to the Island when the first casinos open their doors – it is already here,” according to Deborah Haskins, a US-based counselling expert and the President of the Maryland Council on Problem Gambling.

Dr. Haskins is on Island this week after presenting at Bermuda Casino Gaming Commission’s ‘Awareness of Gambling Addiction in the Faith Community’ event at Bermuda Underwater Exploration Institute on Monday. She is joined by Keith Whyte, the Executive Director of the US National Council of Problem Gambling.

“Some people who attended said ‘I don’t think gambling is a good thing for Bermuda’, but they also said: ‘From being here today I’m recognising we need to be prepared and provide support to people if and when they need it’,” Dr. Haskins explained.

“One church leader stood up, was being honest and was definitely not for gambling. He said ‘gambling is going on and has been for a long time, but now at least it’s out in the open because the reality is folks are gambling. It’s just no one is talking about it.’

“Other participants shared knowledge of persons who engaged in risky gambling and would need professional intervention and recovery support.”

The event and subsequent training attracted more than 50 people, including pastors, church lay people, addiction counsellors and mental health professionals interested in learning more about the issue of problem gambling and how to curb the negative effects when gambling is formally introduced to Bermuda.

“The entire day was phenomenal,” Dr. Haskins explained. “People really felt personally engaged because the presentation focused on the demographics of the community here.

“Bermuda’s population is largely of African descent and a largely religious community, so we used that as a framework to provide the education and support needed.”

Dr. Haskins said historically cultural groups have experienced issues like enslavement, colonisation, marginalisation and oppression.

“Typically, there is no opportunity for ethnic communities to get support for those issues in the world because the world is the rejecting source,” she explained.

“But on the positive side, for people who have been marginalised their faith community, family and friends play a crucial role in healing. In regards to the faith community, the church has always been a space for healing and validation, where you can cry out all of your pain and people will listen.”

She said there was a higher chance members of this disenfranchised segment of the population would use gambling as a coping mechanism or escapism.

“It gives them a sense of empowerment in a world that doesn’t give them that sense of empowerment,” Dr. Haskins said. “If they aren’t winning in the world, it may feel exciting and liberating to win at a hand of cards or game, until they start losing and it’s a lot of loss and they get caught up in that cycle.”

The solution? According to Dr. Haskins is to start an ongoing education campaign so people understand gambling addiction and the risks, so they can potentially opt themselves out of gambling in advance.

Making sure there are enough trained professionals, so people know where to go for support is another key ingredient, she said.

“When someone is in trouble help will be available,” she said. “That’s why we are educating the faith community and the public and mental health professionals because those are the places you can go for help or even in the early stages of a problem developing.

“There will be a 1-800 Confidential Hotline for people to get some support and talk to someone who is trained, can offer support and link them to resources in the community.

“Public awareness is the most important strategy because if people aren’t informed then they can’t make the best decisions for themselves or their families.”

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Comments (10)

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  1. Another sickness to add to our social ills.

    • Real truth says:

      Why introduce another pain in the a__ when we know this is not really going to help little Bermuda in the long run?
      The love of money is definitely the root of all evil!

  2. Vote for Me says:

    “Bermuda’s population is largely of African descent and a largely religious community, so we used that as a framework to provide the education and support needed.”

    OH… the irony.

    We will bring a known catalyst to the island but lets train the faith based community to deal with the negative implications… for a population that is ‘largely of African descent…’

  3. voltage says:

    Good news – this is the first time a in Bermuda producer of a potentially addictive product – legal gaming – is responsible for the collateral damage created by their product. This does not happen with alcohol, prescription or illegal drug producers or distributors.

    The irony is that the Bermuda Gaming Commission is going to pick up the addicted population that has never nor ever will be inside a Bermuda Casino.

    This will hopefully go a long way to bring some efficacy in our addiction treatment system that is often described by clients and family members as fragmented, inefficient and ineffective driven by poor funding decisions and no accountability.

    Helping families impacted by the addiction of gambling is a big and bold step when you consider that one addict alone impacts between five to seven people close to the addict.

    The data created by the Bermuda Gaming Commission will help us understand the impact to our community, families and people.

  4. jiggs bda says:

    A very sober approach to this underlying and until now understated scourge. Hopefully this will go a long ways to help those that may suffer.

    My experience in a 12 step program tells me that there will be those that will play the psychologists & counselors for all they are worth.

    Perhaps a 12 step program will begin for addictive gamblers, if it hasn’t already started…

  5. Real Onion says:

    Gambling has and is going on in Bermy for years…thats a Fact!
    Houses,Boats,Cars,Taxis and large amounts of cash change hands at the turn of a card.

  6. Dangel says:

    My thought is why is the Bermuda Government allowing casino gambling to the island knowing that gambling could lead to other social ills. Would it not make more sense to not allow gambling period. I know there will be those persons that say it is already here – bingo, crown & anchor for specific events and the private gambling in homes. Once legislated there will be more persons who maybe tempted plus the fact that those who currently are gambling ‘undercover’ will come to the fore now.

    This does not make sense period.

    • PBanks says:

      Bermuda’s gambling laws are bizarre, frankly.

      You cannot legally gamble except if it’s bingo. Or, if it’s specifically crown and anchor at an event where police permission is granted (ie Cup Match and Eastern Counties).

      Meanwhile there was a burgeoning and administered Poker league on-island not long ago that pretty much fell apart in part thanks to gov’t laws.

      Later on, groups were having poker nights ‘for charity’ or as fundraising.

      Back on the other side, you can place bets with a bookie for any *overseas* event.

      Yet there has never been a public outcry to ban C&A or bingo, or bookmakers.

      It’s all a jumble. How can we be so selective on which format of gambling is allowed or not?

  7. Y-Gurl says:

    Another out of date brainwave for Bermuda where a few will prosper from the habits of others, who is coming here to gamble? There already being robbed when they are here