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March 2019

Guest writer Tips on Sports Betting; one more SOUL on losing my wife and grief

SAVVY and SKILLS – March is Problem Gambling Awareness Month, which is why this edition comes to you earlier than usual, so you can be aware. Having a guest writer was good for me as I continue in the acute phase of grieving over the loss of my wife a few weeks ago.

SOUL – A bit more on grief and loss this month and then I’ll leave that alone for a while – in Tips and Topics, not my life.


Daniel J. Trolaro, MS is Assistant Executive Director of the Council on Compulsive Gambling of New Jersey. For the past couple of years he has guest written for Tips and Topics in March for Problem Gambling Awareness Month (PGAM). 2019 is the 15th year for this event and “groups across America hold conferences, air Public Service Announcements, provide counselor trainings, host screening days, run social media campaigns and many other activities to increase public awareness of problem gambling and the availability of prevention, treatment & recovery services.”

Problem Gambling Awareness Month

I’ve asked Dan to update us on Sports Betting that has been around for ages, but is rising to new prominence with recent broader legalization. So the remainder of SAVVY and SKILLS is Dan’s work. I have just reformatted his content to fit the Tips and Topics structure.

In honor of Problem Gambling Awareness Month, we want to encourage people to “Have a Conversation” about gambling. But first, we want to equip you with some knowledge and background.

  • What is sports wagering, what are the advantages and concerns, and what considerations should be given for treatment?

This Tips and Topics will highlight some of those areas.


Sports Betting and the new (legal) Frontier in Gambling

In May, 2018 something truly historic occurred. After more than 25 years of sports wagering being illegal outside only a few select states, the Supreme Court reversed a rule that made sports gambling illegal. The Court’s decision to strike down PASPA (Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act) allowed each state to decide whether or not to offer sports wagering within their respective borders.

  • The first state to strike was New Jersey and one month later on June 14th, 2018 the very first wager was placed by Governor Murphy.
  • 9 months later, the state has seen over $1.6 billion in wagers placed with more than 70% of those wagers coming from electronic and mobile devices. Sports Betting 101:

Whether you’re a casual fan who likes to watch sports with some action on the line; or a fan with an advanced knowledge of the games, it’s an exciting time for sure. But when it comes time to place a wager, there’s plenty of insider jargon that can make betting seem overwhelming.


Be familiar with these key Sports Betting terms when discussing sports gambling with a friend, loved one, or patient who may have a gambling disorder

Line – Also known as a point spread, a line is the number odds-makers use to predict the margin of victory.

  • For example if the Giants are a 7 1/2-point favorite and you bet on them, they would need to win by eight points or more.
  • If you bet on the opponent (say the Eagles), the Eagles will win you the bet by either winning the game outright or losing by seven points or less.

Over/Under – This is the number set by oddsmakers that projects the combined total of the final score for both teams. The bettor can choose to bet that the combined score will either be over the set number or under it.

Parlays – This is a type of bet where you need to pick multiple teams to win. Each of those teams need to win in order for the parlay to payoff. It’s a risky bet, but the payout is bigger in a parlay.

Teaser – A teaser is part of a parlay bet where you can move the points in your favor and receive a lower payout in return.

More Resources for Sports Betting Terms

While there are dozens of other terms that one should be familiar with, these are just a few of the basics. Additional terminology can be accessed online as well as on our website at where we have created a more comprehensive list that can aid treatment professionals when discussing problematic sports gambling with their patients.


When the bills were pending in New Jersey to legalize sports gambling, stakeholders from various groups came together to have their voices heard.   These included representatives from the professional sports teams, the horse racing industry, the casino industry, public health and social service organizations, and concerned citizens to name just a few.


Understand the Advantages and Concerns about legalization of Sports Betting


* Legalizing an activity removes a layer of fear by reducing stigma or fear of admitting to the activity and asking for help.

* Provides potential for taxable economic growth and job creation in various sectors.

* A safer more regulated and enforceable market for sports bettors.

* More exciting games for entertainment purposes, viewing angles, and for the public.


* How will ‘In-Play’ wagering (betting on games or elements of games while in progress) impact the casual sports bettor with its speed and reinforcement?

* Will additional resources be made available from revenues generated by sports wagering to help detect and treat problem gambling?

* The illegal bookmakers will still be in business!

* How will internet gambling in terms of ease and convenience factor into the sports betting equation?


Review these Treatment Issues and Considerations

An estimated 5.4 million Americans battle gambling addiction, according to the National Council on Problem Gambling, yet 20 percent of U.S. states do not dedicate any funds toward gambling addiction. With an increasing number of states jumping into the sports betting game, many feel that the potential risks involving prevention and treatment are being overlooked.

Below are some additional issues and concerns to be taken into consideration with respect to treatment and sports wagering:

* Who are the parties and stakeholders to help reduce or remove the stigma with seeking help and treatment?

* Who will fund treatment and services for those who need help with problem or disordered gambling?

* How will treatment for problem gambling be incorporated into other Federally funded programs like substance use, mental health, and other evidenced based programs?

* What measures will be taken for prevention and education to promote responsible play and minimize the social costs of disordered gambling?

Dan’s Bio:

Dan is the Assistant Executive Director for 800-GAMBLER in NJ. Dan has spoken at dozens of events around the state and country about the “Dis” Ease of Addiction, emerging trends in sports gambling and the convergence and connection with disordered gambling. Whether speaking on prevention strategies, emerging trends, responsible gaming or recovery resources, Dan discusses the concept of addiction switching, co-occurrence, and behaviors associated with this devastating addiction.

We know that for substance addiction that the cheaper the drug and the more available it is, the greater are the health and social problems. Now with more accessible legalized sports betting, there is the same potential for problems with the only DSM-5 non-substance addictive disorder, Gambling Disorder.


I promise you I will not be writing about my grieving process in every edition of SOUL.

But I am opening my SOUL again, because I must express my appreciation to the nearly 500 people who took the time to email, call or send cards when learning of the loss of my wife February 23, 2019. February 2019 Tips & Topics

Your messages were so heartfelt, caring and supportive and I am deeply touched. At this point I only have enough bandwidth to send you this mass appreciation for how you cared for me. I wish I could thank each of you personally.

As I work through my grief process, I have already gained wisdom and comfort from others who have had similar experiences of loss; or who teach about grief. I want to share a few insights I have embraced because it helps me to articulate them and say them out loud. It might also help you personally or professionally:

  • Each of us has to go through our own process at our pace and within the values and belief systems that are most meaningful for each person. A colleague who lost his wife 17 years ago said: “I know what you are going through, but I don’t know what you’re feeling.” I found that helpful, because grief is a very personal process and I wasn’t experiencing the typical Kübler-Ross stages of grief.

Then I came across a “Message from David Kessler” who co-authored two books with the Elisabeth Kübler-Ross. The stages of grief, he said, “have evolved since their introduction and have been very misunderstood over the past four decades…. The five stages, denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance are ……tools to help us frame and identify what we may be feeling. But they are not stops on some linear timeline in grief… Just remember your grief is an unique as you are.” Five stages of grief – David Kessler

  • Tears come and go as reminders appear suddenly; or a caring message or call comes through. A friend is correct in saying that the one year mark is important as I will, for the first time in nearly 50 years, go through birthdays, Mothers Day, anniversary, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and other dates without my partner by my side.
  • Taking care of yourself means going with the flow of my feelings, thoughts and emotions; and not suppressing any feelings, thoughts and emotions; not being any way that others think I should be; being thoughtful of others but not to the detriment of what I need to be centered, calm, and serene e.g., respond to messages of others only when I am able, instead of powering through thinking more of their feelings and needs than my own.
  • It is a process, but I already know that what I said in Feb, 2019 Tips & Topics is true: “Throughout my professional life and career, whenever there was a disruptive setback or bump in the road …… it has always opened up new opportunities and even a better future…..I know however, that as I work through my acute grief and it runs its natural and painful course, that there will be that same hopeful outcome eventually.”February 2019 Tips & Topics
  • Others need to be allowed to express their grieving too and I can just listen and accept their own unique way to grieve and who they are.
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