Powerball mania has reached a fever pitch, and that can spell trouble for compulsive gamblers. 

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Lots of people who typically do not buy lottery tickets will buy one or two when the jackpot gets ridiculously high.

The tickets are $2 per so it’s not a big deal for most, but experts say for those at risk of problem gambling the $600 million jackpot could be just enough to push them over the edge.

“We want people to know that there is help and hope for anyone over their head as a result of gambling, whether it's related to lottery or to any other form of gambling,” said Donald Weinbaum, Executive Director of the Council on Compulsive Gambling of NJ (CCGNJ). “If you think you or someone you know might have a gambling problem, we urge you to call our 1-800-GAMBLER helpline to learn more."

Many people are struggling to make ends meet or have serious financial problems hanging over their heads says Weinbaum. Some are desperate and may see the Powerball drawing as a potential solution, worth wagering their entire pay or remaining savings in the hope of a big win. It's an outside bet at best and a very risky one.

"About 15 percent of calls to the Council's helpline are related to lottery gambling,” explained Weinbaum. “The proportion has increased steadily in recent years."

CCGNJ is calling attention to some behaviors that could be red flags and indications of a developing gambling problem.

These include:

  • Playing with money intended for household expenses or other purposes
  • Spending more than intended or more than you can afford
  • Borrowing money to play and hoping to pay it back out of winnings
  • Trying to win back money lost in previous games or in other forms of gambling
  • Spending more and more time gambling or thinking about gambling