The National Council on Problem Gambling recognizes March as Problem Gambling Awareness Month. Problem Gambling Awareness Month is dedicated to increasing public awareness of problem gambling and the availability of prevention, treatment, and recovery services.

Here in Minnesota, we strive to increase awareness about problem gambling and how to get help every month, not just in March. We want our players to have fun, and that means understanding the odds and playing within their means.

The Minnesota Alliance on Problem Gambling provides the following tips that can help you to stay safe if you choose to gamble.

Don’t think of gambling as a way to make money
The venue is using gambling to make money. It’s not designed to work the other way around. Over time you will give away more money than you receive! Think of gambling as an entertainment expense – just like buying a movie ticket.

Only gamble with money you can afford to lose
Gamble within your weekly entertainment budget, not with your phone bill or rent budget.

Set a money limit in advance
Decide how much you can afford to lose before you go to play. When it’s gone — it’s over! If you win, you’ve been lucky, but don’t be disappointed if your luck doesn’t continue.

Set a time limit in advance
It’s easy to lose track of time when you’re gambling. Set a time limit or alarm, and when time’s up — quit! Odds are that the more time you spend gambling, the more money you will lose.

Never chase your losses
If you lose your set money limit and then try to win some of it back before you leave, then you haven’t really set a money limit. Chasing your losses will usually just lead to bigger and bigger losses.

Don’t gamble when you’re depressed or upset
Decision-making can be more difficult when you’re stressed or emotionally upset. Make sure you only gamble when you’re feeling happy and clear headed.

Balance gambling with other activities
When gambling becomes your only form of entertainment, it’s unlikely that you’re still just gambling for the fun of it, and your gambling may even be a problem. Make sure gambling isn’t your only pastime.

Don’t take your bank card with you
This is a good way to safeguard your money limit and not let being “in the moment” warp your judgment.

Take frequent breaks
Gambling continuously can cause you to lose track of time and perspective. Step out for some air or a bite to eat at regular intervals.

Don’t drink or use drugs when gambling
Drugs and alcohol cloud judgment, and good judgment stands as your main line of defense against letting gambling get out of control.

Remember that, while gambling can be fun, it is not a way to solve problems

It’s important to understand the risks and benefits of gambling. Be aware of your own reasons for gambling. The responsibility of balancing these risks and benefits rests solely with you.

Keep in mind that, despite all the above responsible gambling tips, for some people, any gambling can put them at risk. For these people, the only safe gambling may be no gambling at all.

If you are concerned about your gambling or about the gambling of someone you care about, call the Minnesota Problem Gambling Helpline 1-800-333- HOPE (4673). To learn more about problem gambling and other available resources, visit