Creating A Safe Work Place Posted On

As part of Problem Gambling Awareness Month, we have been highlighting problem gambling in the work place.  Problem gambling can negatively affect the work place.  There are steps you can take to keep your work environment safe from gambling related problems.

Problems At Work

Many people choose to gamble while at work.  Whether it’s bringing a scratch-off ticket back from lunch, discussing a lottery pool, or signing up for sports squares or brackets, gambling is taking place in many workplaces.  Gambling activities at work can affect the work place in a number of ways.

  • Lost Time: Individuals with gambling problems can become completely preoccupied with gambling. The workday is often spent either in the act of gambling, planning the next opportunity, or plotting to get money for gambling.  Family members also become pre-occupied, worrying about finances and holding the family together.
  • Lost Productivity: As a result of lost time, the company’s productivity is damaged. The gambler becomes unreliable, misses project deadlines and important meetings, and produces work that is of poor quality.  Physical and emotional health problems associated with excessive gambling can further diminish work performance and attendance.  Depression, anxiety, high blood pressure, or stress-related illness can surface.  Individuals with gambling problems have a high rate of suicide and suicide attempts.  Stressed family members are also at risk of suicide.  The emotional, financial or legal problems can appear to be so severe that suicide looks like the only “way out.”
  • Theft, Fraud and Embezzlement: Employees with severe gambling problems may commit theft, fraud or embezzlement. Money is the gambler’s key to action.  Once all legitimate avenues to obtain cash are exhausted, the gambler, in desperation, may resort to illegal acts to acquire cash.  Problem gamblers do not see this activity as theft.  They see it as “borrowing money” and plan to replace it when they win. 

Creating A Safe Work Place

To ensure you have a safe work place for all workers, removing gambling opportunities is important.  We can all do our part to ensure a safe work environment.

  • Building relationships through conversations is the first step. This is especially important because gambling may not come up during an initial screens.  This is why problem gambling is often referred to as the hidden addiction.
  • Listen for clues to a gambling problem. Is gambling a regular choice for recreation?   Are they preoccupied and involved in gambling activities at work?  Is this person discussing relationship and/or financial issues?  These can all be clues that there may be a gambling problem. 
  • Adopt gambling related policies for the work place. Whether the policy refers to fundraising, gambling-free events, or gambling activities while at work, a policy can help everyone.  Policies help reduce exposure to gambling opportunities and help keep employees safe from gambling problems while at work.  Gambling can be included as part of alcohol and drug policies.

Help For Those In Need

Everyone should have the right to work in a safe work place.  Adopting policies to ensure employee safety is important to keep everyone safe.  Even with policies, people can still have problems in the work place. 

If you have an employee who is struggling with a gambling problem, please contact your EAP coordinator, or you can contact your local Problem Gambling Resource Center. Reaching out to help someone struggling with problem gambling can save their life.