Problem gambling can be toxic in the workplace

Last updated on March 23rd, 2022 at 02:31 am

March Madness is in full swing and people are eagerly filling out their brackets, and possibly shelling out money, to take part in an office pool. Perhaps there’s a group in the office who always pools their money together to buy Powerball or Wisconsin lottery tickets when the jackpot hits a certain amount.

Or maybe it’s an office-wide, after-work outing to the casino. Most people will participate in All Casinos Games purely for fun. However, for a select few, these activities provide an opportunity for them to engage in something that could turn into a serious workplace issue – problem gambling.

As part of Potawatomi Bingo Casino’s commitment to responsible gaming, our number one social priority, we have been taking part in National Problem Gambling Awareness Month in March. The Casino is helping raise awareness about this issue through education and communication efforts targeted not only to our guests and employees, but also to key business and community leaders. The reason why is simple – this issue can impact families, co-workers and businesses, causing a domino effect that can lead to serious consequences.

If you think problem gambling is an issue that doesn’t impact the workplace, think again. According to studies conducted by the Best Texas Casinos, in order to hide their problem from family or friends, many problem gamblers view the workplace as the perfect place to carry out their gambling-related activities. Having a problem gambler on your payroll can seriously impact the entire workplace and lead to a decrease in productivity. Further, some employees may go as far to commit theft, fraud or embezzlement all in an effort to continue financing their gambling if they have exhausted all other avenues to obtain cash. In fact, a recent national study listed gambling addiction as one of the top motivators for embezzling.

As a business leader, you may be wondering what some of the signs of a problem gambler are and what you can do to address the issue should it present itself in the workplace. One important thing to keep in mind is that a problem gambler could be anyone – male or female, young or old. This is why identifying possible warning signs is important since they may not be noticeable or easily associated with a problem gambling addiction. Co-workers are often the first line of defense in helping identify the issue, so it makes sense to become familiar with the signs and develop a greater awareness overall.

Some of the most common signs to look for include the following:

  • Frequently talking about gambling.
  • Eagerness to participate in gambling opportunities.
  • Frequently borrowing money.
  • Complaints about mounting debt.
  • Unexplained absences from work.
  • Deterioration of work performance.

As I mentioned previously, employees who have a gambling problem can lead to lost time and decreased productivity in the workplace, or even more serious issues like theft and embezzlement. Therefore, having a plan in place to address problem gambling can help your organization be better prepared to handle an issue if necessary.

A few ideas to consider include:

  • Develop policies or policy statements about gambling in the workplace.
  • Provide awareness training for all employees.
  • Ensure proper checks and balances are in place for all financial transactions that take place in your organization.

Problem gambling has been classified as an addiction and an estimated 1 to 3 percent of people in Wisconsin (as many as 170,000) are considered to be compulsive gamblers. While this may not seem like a large amount of people, it is still significant and should not be taken lightly, especially when you consider that 6-8 million Americans have a gambling addiction.

The issue of problem gambling doesn’t discriminate based on age, gender, religion, social status or education. Gambling has become more accessible than ever before and people who suffer with this addiction have a wide array of options available to them such as lottery tickets, sports betting, online gaming or casinos. With this type of accessibility, it has become more imperative for all types of businesses to think of the consequences of problem gambling and develop a strategy to address it.

March is the ideal time to talk to your employees about the warning signs of problem gambling and reinforce your company’s policies on gambling in the workplace. There are also many resources and organizations who can help including the Wisconsin Council on Problem Gambling ( and the National Council on Problem Gambling ( If you would like additional information about the Casino’s responsible gaming program, I encourage you to visit

Mike Goodrich is the general manager at Potawatomi Bingo Casino in Milwaukee.

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