CLARKSBURG, W.Va. (WBOY) – With the Powerball jackpot soaring over $1.5 billion, it’s leading many people to head out to convenience stores, gas stations and more to buy a ticket in hopes of winning life changing money.
“Whenever the Powerball jackpot gets high like this, it does generate a lot of excitement,” West Virginia Lottery Assistant Director Randy Burnside said.
Excitement across the country even trickles down to non-gamblers.
“What we often see with people is they begin gambling recreationally and then they start thinking of it more of a financial investment instead of something that’s entertaining and they lose money they didn’t mean to lose,” 1-800 GAMBLER Director of Communications Sheila Moran said. “They go back and chase their loss by putting in more money and it becomes kind of an insidious cycle.”
According to Scan Team Pro, about two and a half million Americans have a gambling addiction. While that’s not saying you’d get an addiction if you play the Powerball or the lottery in general, but it could be a gateway to an expensive hobby.
“We’re not here to tell people that gambling is bad for you,” Moran said. “We just want to make sure that people understand that if you are going to gamble, remember that it’s (slim) chances you’re going to win, and this is just a way to have some entertainment. It is not supposed to be a financial investment or strategy, you can not let it take over your life or think of it that way.”
WV Lottery agrees that they want people to gamble, but to do so responsibly.
“We do want people to play responsibly and remember it just takes one ticket to win,” Burnside said. “Just one $2 ticket and you have just as good of odds as anybody anywhere else in the country.”
There are other prizes than the jackpot for the Powerball. Burnside urges people to check their numbers to see if they won any other kind of payout.
“I encourage everyone to check your ticket because even if you didn’t match every number, you could still win a prize,” Burnside said.
If you or a loved one has a gambling addiction, 1-800 GAMBLER can come to your aid if you contact them.
“Call us if you notice that your loved one is spending too much time or money gambling. We can give you all of the options that are available to them to get early treatment,” Moran said.
The hotline is available 24/7.
“When people call us, the first thing they’re going to get is a real live person, a human being, a compassionate human being who answers that phone 24/7,” Moran said. “(The hotline) can: help them, listen to them, talk them through their issues provide crisis counseling if necessary and immediately link them with help with support groups. They can find treatment and they can have all sorts of tools available to them to stop gambling.”
Moran told 12 News that there is a high success in breaking the costly habit as well.
“Most of the people who call us are able to stop gambling, so it’s a successful program,” Moran said.