How to stop Gambling
in Florida

Welcome to QuitGamble.com! In this guide, we’ll give you all the information you need to quit gambling. The guide focuses on the options a problem gambler has in Florida. If you live in any other US state, click here to find your state guide.

  • What is gambling doing for you?
  • How to eliminate triggers to gamble.
  • Next action – Powerful action plan

01

Let’s get started!

The first thing, we’d like you to ask yourself is: What is gambling doing for you?
What happens when you gamble? Does it create a moment of peace? A period when nothing else matters? Perhaps the answers can explain why it’s so hard to quit?

We believe addiction has an upside. Gambling is doing something for us, and the first step to any recovery (or beat the crap out a gambling problem) is to find out what that is. The answers to the quetsions above can help you with that understanding.

02

Eliminate Triggers to Gamble

The second step is to limit your exposure to gambling triggers. It’s nearly impossible to stop eating ice cream if you have a freezer full of it. It’s the same with gambling! Removing apps and things you connect with gambling can aid you to become gambling-free. In our video course How to create a Change Plan, we call it “clean up your physical space. (Highly recommended)

Creating is Change Plan will boost your chances to succeed, and it’s a great way to act today. We’re here to support you! Add your email below, and we’ll send you the course for free.

How can you decrease your exposure to gambling ads?

  1. Switch your email address. If you’ve ever signed up for anything online, there is a big list your email has been sold to a casino. Switching your email gives you a fresh start.
  2. Switch your cellphone number. Like with your email address, if you’ve given your cellphone number away, the casinos will text or call you.
  3. Switch to streaming services. Avoid watching TV channels with gambling commercials.

Can you self-exclude from casinos in Florida?

Great! These things are a good start, but what help can a gambling addict get in Florida to decrease the number of triggers? In some US states, there is a compulsive gambling prevention program, but there is no self-exclusion casino program in Florida.


So, what can you do instead?

Let’s get you back in control by self-exclude from casinos in Florida. Even if there is no voluntary self-exclusion program for the entire state, you can still self-exclude yourself from the casinos, or other gambling places you most often visit. Take a friend with you, and self-ban yourself from the casino. (The friend is there to make sure you do what you came to the casino to do.)

Do you gamble online in Florida?

Is there a way to self-exclusion from online casinos in Florida?

The regulations for online gambling are changing in Florida. To our best knowledge, all online gambling is still prohibited in Florida. Many gamblers use unregulated foreign casinos, though. It means, however, that there are no registers or programs you can sign up for to block these casinos. But, you have another option! You can download an app like Gamban or Betblocker. You can read our review of Gamban here.

In short, when you install Gamban on your phone and desktop, the app blocks online gambling websites in Florida, as well as in other places. When you try to access any gambling-related site, you’ll only see a message that the website is blocked. Gamban even covers betting apps you have installed on your phone. Gamban isn’t “the solution” to stop gambling, but it’s definitely a helpful tool to put in your toolbox. It’s a friend that gives you a helping hand when you feel an urge to gamble.

Another advantage is that you can’t uninstall the app whenever you want. You have to wait until your subscription runs out.

If you gamble online, we warmly recommend you install Gamban on all your devices! Gamban is available for desktop, iPhone, and Android. Download it directly through your app store or visit Gamban.com.

03

Welcome to QuitGamble.com

We believe it’s important to keep away from gambling, but the ugly truth is that few people succeed by just staying away. To stop gambling addiction, you need to address what makes gambling so attractive to you. Remember the questions on top? On QG, we’ll work on your inner, as well as, your outer game. We’ll support you on your way to become gambling free!

Check out this brief introduction to QG:

Join a community of people who wants to become happier, and free from their gambling problems. If you feel overwhelmed by all the information in this guide, don’t worry. As a new member, we’ll hand you the tools you need to kick this addiction’s ass step by step.

Let begin by doing the Happiness Test!


What resources are there for a gambling addict in Florida?

Are you tired of gambling? Do you need some help to quit? As a compulsive gambler in Florida, here are some more resources that can be helpful.  

  • QuitGamble.com (We challenge you, to challenge yourself)
  • Gambler’s Anonymous Florida (Classic 12-steps, here is an interesting article for you QG vs GA)
  • Florida Council on Problem Gambling
  • Suicidal thoughts? Please Call: National Suicide Prevention Hotline 1-800-273-8255

Action Plan – How to stop gambling in Florida?

Let’s KICK ADDICTION’S ASS together! You’ve already taken a big leap to become gambling-free by reading through this guide. Hopefully, you’ve also asked yourself why gambling is so attractive. We recommend you do the next 3-8 steps below. You don’t need to stop gambling alone in Florida. On QG we help you back on your feet, cheer you on, and aid you on your journey to… yes, that’s right… TO KICK ADDICTION’S ASS

  1. Read this guide
  2. Ask yourself is: What is gambling doing for you?
  3. Sign up for the free Change Plan course to get started
  4. Switch email address, phone number
  5. Download the self-exclusion forms, sign, and file them
  6. If you’re gambling online, download and install Gamban.
  7. Do the Happiness Test
  8. Sign up for a free account and join the QG community.

Take some time today and do these steps. It might an hour or two, but when you’re done. You’ve taken your first steps to stop gambling and you should be proud of yourself!
Wait!

We’re proud of you too! Welcome to QuitGamble.com

Interview with Jennifer Kruse

Brian Hatch interviewed Executive Director for Florida Council on Compulsive Gambling  Jennifer Kruse on his podcast All In: The Addicted Gambler’s Podcast. In the interview, they talk about what help there is for a problem gambler in Florida. They provide more information about the hotline number and the resources that FCCG can offer. In the link below, you’ll find the full episode. If you prefer to read, you’ll find a transcription of the highlights from the interview as well.

All in: The addicted gambler’s podcast

Could you sort of set the gambling landscape in Florida? What is available in Florida as far as gambling?

We’ve got all kinds of gambling in Florida. We are one of the top three states in terms of gambling in the country. We’ve got casino gambling, tribal casino gambling, and we’ve got the Seminoles to have six locations, and then the Miccosukee tribe has one tribal casino down in South Florida.

Florida has around 18 to 20 cardroom racetracks highlight for net holders, offering new cards, poker rooms simulcast racing. Obviously, dog racing was decoupled here in the state, so there’s no more dog racing, but they do simulcast, and live horse racing at the tracks have horse racing. And of course, we’ve also got the day in floating casinos, the cruises to nowhere that go up ports, Port Canaveral, and I think there’s similar on the West Coast at Tampa. We’ve, of course, got the Florida lottery. Huge lottery and in the counties, we’ve got bingo sweepstakes, the illegal machines that are at the bars and gas stations and internet sweepstakes cafes; that’s a whole other topic for a separate podcast—all in and of itself.

Brian Hatch:

What is that?

Jennifer Kruse:

The internet cafe where they have the machines is a slot machine. And the state does not regulate them, and they left it up to the counties. It’s not like a legal form of gambling, but it’s up to the counties to decide individually what they want to do with them. But because it’s not a state-regulated form of gambling, there are no consumer protections in place there. So, there’s no required signage of the helpline number or any other type of employee training or awareness for warning signs of a gambling problem. So, incredibly dangerous from a problem gambling perspective. But they’re everywhere.

Brian Hatch:

I didn’t even know I’m always amazed at what exists just to have no idea I can Oregon, the head, those video lottery terminals everywhere, I had no idea that those were around. I was a casino gambler. So I was just always going to a casino. I mean, I knew that the lottery existed and scratch-offs existed, but that was about the extent of my knowledge. And then I found out about the charity, poker rooms, and all these other rooms went whoa, I had no idea.

Jennifer Kruse:

We’ll see it here in Florida because it’s such a large state. The bulk of the casino gambling is done in South Florida and Broward, and Miami Dade County. So, except for the Tampa hard rock, which is over in the New Tampa area, other than that, there’s no other casino gambling. So these slot machines the gas stations are as close as some people can get without traveling to the slot machine or casino gambling.

Is there a hotline number for people who struggle with a gambling addiction in Florida?

Jennifer Kruse:

Absolutely! Our helpline is 888 ADMITTED aka 888-236-4848. We are also available via live chat on our website at gamblinghealth.org. and people can also text. You can text us at 321-978-0555.

Brian Hatch:

Do you find that people text? Do you get a lot of?

Jennifer Kruse:

Absolutely. Especially the younger demographic. And online chat, too, is pretty popular. You don’t have to have that dialogue. And you’re behind the screen and it sort of, I think, creates this level of anonymity that makes people feel more comfortable.

Brian Hatch:

Florida is a big state; you have the 24-hour helpline and the chat in the text. Is it constantly busy? Are you continually fielding calls?

Jennifer Kruse:

We are swamped. And I will tell you that post-COVID, the severity of the calls has increased, and we’re seeing some really serious calls and some real devastated people that are suffering. COVID has sort of changed the gambling landscape. And we’ve seen that reflected in our helpline data. And you ask, is it constantly busy? The answer, the short answer, is yes. We’re always busy. And there’s no rhyme or reason, really, to the business.

You can’t say okay, well, every Monday, we’re going to be really busy. Because it’s a Monday, you can’t predict one day to the next or one call to the next you never know what’s going to be at the other end of that line when you answer the phone. It’s a huge job answering the helpline, and it’s something that we take very seriously. Our helpline is operated in-house; as you mentioned, it’s 24/7, 365 days a year. So, on Christmas morning, when that person who maybe doesn’t have family or doesn’t celebrate Christmas or cannot participate in Christmas, because they just lost everything gambling calls the helpline, we’re there for those people.

If I have a problem with gambling and I call you. What happens then?

Jennifer Kruse:

It’s not a one size fits all approach, we have a plethora of resources that are based upon each colors unique needs. So our approach to the helpline process is that we’re not there to provide counseling services over the phone. Our helpline specialists serve as paraprofessionals that collect information from the callers, which serves multiple purposes.

One, it allows us to help them better, so we have a dialogue, have a conversation, collect information about what’s going on, and I would say this to you, well, what’s going on with you like what prompted you to call today, what happened?

Then they’ll usually open up, tell us a bit of their situation, guide the conversation to, you know, collecting information relative to their financial situation. Obviously, money is a massive factor in the gambling or the problem gambling equation. But it’s not always a money issue. Relationship problems are often the number one reason people will, year after year, call our helpline because relationships are a lot harder to repair than finances.

If you destroy your marriage or destroy your relationship with your kids, it’s harder to rebuild that than it is to reestablish your credit. So we talked to them about all these different pieces.

  • How’s your health?
  • Is your gambling impacting your health?
  • Do you have any medical conditions?
  • Do you suffer from neurological disorders because we know that there are links to certain medications that you know can cause problem gambling behaviors?

We have these conversations. We get the information and then based upon when the person experiencing and their individual needs, we provide them with tailored resources. Those resources can be anything from counseling referrals to certified gambling addiction and mental health treatment providers to inform them about gamblers’ anonymous 12 step support groups, self-help support groups, as well as alternative support groups. Some callers live in areas with gamblers’ anonymous meetings, then we might recommend them.

It isn’t just the problem gamblers who are impacted. We have all the resources that we have available for gamblers. We also have for loved ones and others adversely affected. For the family members, friends, or anyone who’s negatively impacted by gambling, there’re meetings and counseling for them.

I think COVID has really opened up the door for a lot of advancements in terms of accessibility to treatment supports, whether it’s the telephone, GA meetings, online meetings to telehealth counseling, or online treatment supports.  We are actually in the process of developing our very own in-house online treatment program.

We also provide self-exclusion resources for people. So, we talked about on what you’re gambling, when you do it, and where.  We know that for a problem gambler, they’re usually not just gambling in one place. They’re going to bet on whatever they can, wherever they can, whenever they can. So it’s like, okay, well, you may be calling today because you just lost a ton of money playing slots in a casino or online gambling. Still, you’re probably also buying lottery tickets when you’re going to the gas station or the grocery store. So, we talked about that so that we can, you know, then, in turn, provide them with self-exclusion options that are going to be the most helpful, you know, for their situation.

We have financial resources. Obviously, the goal is not to bill problem gamblers out financially. They’ll frequently call the helpline looking for a quick fix like we pay their casino debt. But that’s not what we’re here for. We will provide them with our budget tool. It’s a tool where we help them develop a budget, and we work with them on that. Our peer Connect program or peer connects program is hugely successful.

That’s also one of our resources on the helpline. The caller is offered the opportunity to speak with someone in recovery. He’s been in recovery for a long time, and they can sometimes help take that next step towards getting help and ease the fears. A lot of times, people don’t know anything about what’s going on with them. They call the helpline, and they say things like: ”I’ve never had a problem with any other addictions in my life. And now, I can’t stop gambling, and I don’t know what’s going on. I don’t know why I can’t stop.”

There’s a lot of shame associated with this addiction. So through the peer connects program, we can help them take those first steps to treatment to go meetings and work on their budget tool. We’ve got a ton of literature and resources that we provide to callers for free. Our chance for change recovery workbook series, it’s just a phenomenal workbook series that we offer. We have a series for gamblers, a series for loved ones, and a series for seniors because we know that it’s very different for those different groups. We have provided that in English and Spanish, hardcopy, it’s seven books to the series, each book talks about a separate area of your life that’s impacted by the addiction.

So for gamblers, we talk about their finances, relapse; all of the different pieces are put into these seven books. For loved ones, the books talk about things that they can do for themselves, independent of the gambler’s willingness to change, or stop gambling or even get help. Because sometimes, we know that’s just never going to happen. But the impacts felt by the loved one are still they’re still genuine. And then sometimes worse than what the gambler themselves are experiencing. Again, we’ve got tons of resources depending upon the individual, and what’s going on with them.

Let’s talk more about self-exclusion in Florida.

Jennifer Kruse:

The self-exclusion here in Florida isn’t uniform at the racinos. It is with the Seminoles. If you exclude at one of the seminal properties, and you’re excluded from all of them. That’s not the case with the racinos. Each facility offers different periods and lengths of exclusion. That’s a challenge.

We make sure that we talk about each facility’s policy and ways to incorporate the helpline into the self-exclusion process and connect the guests to the supports they need. We provide the casinos with self-exclusion kits. It’s a folder that they hand out or can hand the person as they’re self-excluding. The folder got all of our information in it, and they can also stick their self-exclusion policy in it. The guest gets the information they need, and that the security member isn’t trying to remember everything they learned in training. We try to make it easy to provide them with the tools, and they need to get people to us.

Brian Hatch:

So, to self-exclude. If somebody wants to self-exclude how many, this is hard everywhere, I wish, again, I’m sure everybody wishes there was just a blanket self-exclusion. But if somebody wants to self-exclude from all forms of gambling, that you’re able to self-exclude from how many different lists you have to sign up for?

Jennifer Kruse:

Well, so and we don’t maintain the self-exclusion list at the properties in Florida. So it’s individual by property. So they would have to go to each operator, like I said, except for the Seminoles. So to someone else, they offer uniform exclusion at all their properties. But besides that, they would have to go to any place that they’re gambling to self-exclude?

Do you get calls from people just visiting Florida?

Jennifer Kruse:

Yeah, there’s a mix in terms of the calls. I would say to you that for the most part, a lot of people come to Florida, in particular, the older adult population. A lot of them are snowbirds. They have houses here. So they are residents, the agents, maybe part-time residents of the state; I wouldn’t say that definitely, the bulk of our calls are not transient visitors. I will tell you, we’ve seen that the population at least in the most decreased. Post-COVID the contacts with the helpline, we’ve seen about a 24% decrease in gamblers over 65. What I will say to you is I don’t think necessarily that they’re not gambling anymore, I just think that they were afraid to go back to the casinos.

There’s a lot of fear surrounding the virus and safety measures. And I think that that will change as people get more comfortable people to get vaccinated. Probably that won’t necessarily be a lasting trend. But we’re seeing an increase in younger gamblers right now. They involved in online gambling,  stock market gambling, sports betting, even sports betting online gambling. It’s illegal in the state of Florida, but it’s been around for years: The young players are doing it, and they’re going to continue to do it. We’re 100% seeing the impacts of that on the helpline. With that comes a whole host of other concerns with this younger demographic. The ease and access and with the click of a mouse, you can lose everything. Often they aren’t educated about the dangers of becoming addicted or where the impact and it’s that’s where we see the increase in contacts is those 25 years of age and younger.

Brian Hatch:

Well, it’s good to hear that young people are reaching out because I guess I called the helpline when I was 18. I mean, I knew within a few months that I had a gambling problem based on what happened to me and eventually got excused from college because I was out of all my gambling and not going to class. But it’s one of those things that the younger population doesn’t reach out to. So I’m pleased to hear that you’re getting some of that.

Jennifer Kruse:

We are. And we’ve seen an uptick in the past couple of years with that demographic and it was interesting, just like you said, you called. They’re calling to. Yes, they’re chatting, and they’re texting, but they’re calling. The bulk of those contacts are actually picking up the phone and call, and that’s why when I say to you that onboarding and training are so important and difficult, you have to be able to connect with that caller and make them feel comfortable sharing their story and telling you what’s going on with them. Because that gives us the ability to collect meaningful data, which provides the support and substantiates the need for services such as this, but collecting the data and helping somebody like they’re not mutually exclusive. You can accomplish both if it’s done well, and that’s why training and onboarding are so important.

It’s such an important imperative piece of our entire staff and our operation in general and connects with those younger callers. When they call, they often don’t know what to say; then, you must help them get started. You don’t want to make them feel like you’re just grilling them with the question; it’s a niche market. It’s a different kind of conversation, and somebody who says has been in and out of recovery for years or, ”Oh, I attended GA in the past,” and the deal or maybe they’ve attended AA or NA historically and have experienced with addictions and with seeking support

Florida has a large Spanish-speaking community. Does anybody speak Spanish on the hotline?

Yeah, we’ve got three bilingual staff members on the helpline. And we pretty much all of our programming that we develop, we do in English and Spanish. Yeah, we also do some stuff in Creole because there is a relatively large patient population down in South Florida. So we’ve developed some Creole programming as well. But yeah, we’ve tried to do everything in English and Spanish. The casino trains are offered in English and Spanish as well.

When you train casino staff, what does that look like?

We do two different areas of training for the casino and racinos each year. So there are eight of them there, the slot license para mutual facilities in Broward and Miami Dade counties. We provide them with new hire training because the Florida statute says; within the first 30 days of employment, every new employee in Florida’s gambling industry must undergo compulsive gambling training.

We offer them that training and an on-demand online format.  Because obviously, we can’t run down, being a staff of seven people to cover entire Florida every time a casino hires someone new. We’ve had that platform with the online training module for them for some time. So that’s one piece of it.

That is your foundational training. We provide the basic information and that training:

  • What is problem gambling,
  • What to look for some of the same things that we talked about in our annual live training.
  • What are some of the warning signs?

It is a new curriculum that we develop every year, and that is second to the online trains; online training exists. We’ve also got this live training that we do. The live training we had to transfer to an online module due to COVID for the first time this year. Now we’ve got both of our training components in an online format, but that training, we freshen it up with content annually.

We try to talk about what’s relevant in the gambling world and the core foundational information on what is compulsive gambling. What are some of the warning signs? The warning signs for casino employees are not the same warning signs necessarily that a family member or a friend may see. Right. So we talk about that, like what does it look like? If you’ve got a guest, you know your guests, you see them, you see them come in every day.

  • Watch their behaviors; are they spending more time at the slot machine or the card table?
  • Is there a deterioration in their physical appearance?
  • Do they look like they’re untidy or unkempt?

Some different things to look for that could indicate someone’s gambling is getting out of control. That’s huge to identifying the signs but really beyond that. It’s also essential to know how to communicate and intervene when you see somebody with a gambling problem.

The protocols and procedures vary between facilities,  but from our perspective, what we teach in training is just knowing how to have the conversation. Like you just said: “being heard by somebody is so important to know”. You could see someone sitting in a slot machine sobbing and crying, hysterical on the phone. They might have a gambling problem; that’s a possibility. But they also might be crying on the phone, because maybe they’re a family member just called them to tell them that their dog just ran away, and they can’t find the dog or who knows something tragic could have happened in their personal lives that have nothing to do with their gambling.

So it’s about approaching it in and in the best way for both the facility employee and the patron and not getting too into the weeds remembering that the helpline was the resource. We’re the experts on this issue. And just at the very minimum, knowing the helpline number and connecting that guest in need of help with the helpline. It’s hugely important.

This training is imperative for all employees. I maintain this; it’s not just the security staff that needs to be educated about problem gambling. The valet person must know what compulsive gambling is too. Because they may be the last person to see that gambler as they’re leaving the casino. . Someone’s life could have potentially been saved just by that intervention. So it’s crucial that everyone is trained and receives the same basic information at a minimum.

How is Florida Council on Compulsive Gambling funded?

So there’s a need for a current funding structure. Each of those eight racinos down in Broward and Miami Dade counties is statutorily required to pay $250,000 each into the compulsive gambling fund for the state. So that’s $2 million. Of the $2 million, we get 1.25. We get a portion of that, not all of it. But hopefully, that’s something that we’re hoping will change too, as we move forward.

Historically, we have been by the Florida lottery. That funding ended in 2012. We’re hopeful that we will get some support and work with the floor lottery one day for sure. The seminars have always supported this issue. They continue to do so voluntarily. So we’re very, very fortunate there.

What would help you the most to do your job?

This would be much longer than an hour-long podcast if I did that. So I would say my one big ask would be really for a comprehensive, cohesive approach to problem gambling as a public health issue amongst all key stakeholders. And I think that’s so essential because it’s not just pushing the burden off to the next guy.

We all play a role, and there are things that everyone can do, from regulators to operators, to members of the community, to advocacy organizations such as ours, operators, of course. There are so many moving parts. I think that equity in the responsibility and in addressing this issue and providing for this issue, whether it’s awareness, outreach, and there’s funding necessary to do those things so that we can continue to answer the phone for those people who call the helpline or are in such dire need of support.