Expert To Speak On Gambling Addiction & Faith

March 24, 2017

Deborah HaskinsGambling may be an “exciting form of entertainment, but it is not a sound financial strategy,” advises Dr Deborah Haskins, the Director of Counseling Programmes at Trinity Washington University, an upcoming guest speaker at ‘Awareness of Gambling Addiction in the Faith Community’ presentation at Bermuda Underwater Exploration Institute on Monday at 11am.

Dr. Haskins has specialised in providing clinical counselling services to communities of colour since the late 1990s. She’s seen how people in desperate need to get funds will use gambling as a means to earn extra cash, however, she maintains this thinking is skewed and could lead to disaster.

“Some people rely on gambling for what they see as a desperate need to get funds,” Dr. Haskins explained. “They tell themselves ‘If only I hit the jackpot things will be better’.

“It’s desperation sometimes due to a lack of employment or underemployment that leads them to gambling addiction, which actually makes them feel more trapped rather than liberated.”

Dr. Haskins will join Keith Whyte, the Executive Director of the National Council of Problem Gambling [NCPG] in Washington D.C. in an effort to educate and train the Island’s faith based community in this type of pastoral counselling.

Brought to the Island by the Bermuda Casino Gaming Commission, the goal is to be proactive in minimizing any negative consequences that could arise from the island’s first casinos.

“We are catering this presentation to the faith-based community because we believe spiritual centers can be an important safe haven for people in the community facing gambling concerns, just like they are for individuals with any other problem like depression, anxiety or addiction to drugs and alcohol,” Dr. Haskins said.

“There’s still a huge stigma in regards to mental health concerns in ethnic communities. Persons are less likely to ask for help in a traditional way like counselling, but may go to their pastors or a coworker, friend or spouse for guidance.”

Dr. Haskins, also the President of Maryland Council on Problem Gambling, sees faith communities as an integral part of the prevention, as well as the addiction treatment process, but said there are some messages in the church that can actually do more harm than good.

Shame-based messages like ‘gambling is a sin’, ‘if you are in trouble you can just go to God’, ‘you just need to pray more’ or ‘you must not be strong enough in your faith if you are not able to stop’ – can all serve as a deterrent to people getting help, she said.

She explained that in many cases, faith leaders see their response as healing, but the person in crisis can feel unsupported or judged.

“There may be a biblical basis [to these statements], but what I have seen in cultural communities and spiritual communities, especially in the body of faith, is people aren’t always supported in ways they need to be. However, churches are able to function at their best when they are able to meet people at their need.

“The reality is you can be a person in daily life relying on your faith and you can use gambling as a form of recreation,” she added

“Often times when it comes to problem gambling, people may originally get into it to escape a negative experience like a loss, trauma, anxiety, depression or some cultural barriers they don’t have control over, like experiences of oppression.

“So it’s about making religious leaders aware so these people most at risk have a safe, non-judgmental place to get resources and support,” she said.

The presentation and subsequent non-clinical training on Monday afternoon intends to help faith leaders, clergy and lay ministers increase their awareness on what problem gambling is and how to spot if a person is having a problem.

“We will go over the history of gambling, the facts and prevalence of gambling and address the cultural nuisances in terms of people gambling in cultural communities to address some of the cultural challenges,” Dr. Haskins said.

“We will go into how to engage individuals and family members so they know the different options for help and resources such as the Confidentiality Hotline. We will also educate them about gambling and look at the different motivations to stop gambling if the person is in trouble.”

According to international statistics, one in three percent of people who gamble will become addicted. Mr. Whyte said factors to consider before gambling are your “biology, psychology or sociology”. For instance if you have a genetic history of addiction or are more susceptible to illness’ like depression, then gambling may not be suitable for you.

To sign up to attend the presentation and free training, call 400-2100 or e-mail The deadline to RSVP is today.

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Comments (7)

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  1. San George says:

    You byes are going to hurt the churches man – that dollar offering they used to get is GONE! At least you byes will be rich when you die.

  2. smh says:

    When will churches stop running this island? Gambling seems to be fine if church’s host it…

  3. la Root says:

    By sponsoring this event they readily admit that gambling is going to cause a problem and erode the already thinning fabric of our society. So why do it in the first place? And they have the nerve to ask the church to clean up their mess. Shameful.

  4. Izzypop says:

    Sick of pple telling me what to do with my money. I enjoy a casino or two a year. It’s my getaway.
    Smoking and drinking are addictive
    Medicine is addictive
    How come no effort is put into stopping them

  5. Gambling will only work if Bermudians are allowed to gamble 24hours a day .That is the game plan. It will destroy what’s left of the black Land was put up by others for fields at our sports clubs , to get the men away from their families , drinking alcohol. We play on our fields , while others plant their fields , and we buy their produce. BUT YOU DID NOT HEAR THIS FROM ME . Gambling is not the answer . You are creating an environment where people are being set up to expect something for nothing . What is created by grown adults exchanging cards and money all day long ,while sitting at a table? NOTHING !!

  6. BermudaBabe says:

    If people use this as a form of entertainment , as long as they have the control to stop at a limit, it is no different than going to a movie or a concert … those aren’t “sound financial decisions” either ie. the money is just spent. You are talking about using gambling in a desperate attempt to make money – that is not a sound financial decision.