Lottery fever not a game for people with gambling addictions

Posted: Updated:
EDISON -

The Mega Millions and Powerball lottery jackpots are now worth more than $2 billion combined – causing many around New Jersey to run out to purchase tickets.

But some mental health experts say that this can be a dangerous time for those with a gambling addiction.

VIDEO: How would you spend the money?

“I’ve had grown men calling me up on the phone, crying because they can’t stop,” says Neva Pryor, the executive director of the Council on Compulsive Gambling of New Jersey.

RELATED: Mega Millions ticket worth over $1M sold in New Jersey

The organization helps those with gambling addictions to get treatment. Pryor says that whether it is casinos, sports betting or the lottery, problem gamblers suffer from an uncontrollable urge to bet beyond their means.

“Tomorrow we’ll say, ‘Oh well, I blew $2.’ But the person who’s a problem gambler is going to be saying, ‘I lost thousands of dollars,’ or ‘I relapsed,’” Pryor says.

Pryor says that as the lottery jackpots get bigger, the allure for problem gamblers will grow. The organization receives around one thousand calls a year from gamblers looking for help.

Anyone who thinks they have a gambling problem, or needs help, should call 1-800-GAMBLER.

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