Thursday, February 27, 2020

Post 126


To celebrate our 10th Anniversary of the GRM BLOG, the GRM Website is undergoing an updated and refreshed remodeling. 

Project completion is estimated by April 1 … and we’re not fooling!  

You will still be able to go back through the Posts and re-read – or discover anew – past Blog Posts; and the GRM website will continue to be packed with valuable – and current - information about gambling addiction and recovery issues!   


Rev. Janet Jacobs, CCGSO

Founding Director

Gambling Recovery Ministries

Monday, January 13, 2020

Post 125 



HAPPY BIRTHDAY!  It has been ten years since GRM Blog Post #1 greeted and welcomed readers to’s new blog feature.  During the previous year, I spent most of the twelve months writing content for a newly transformed Gambling Recovery Ministries’ website.  My webhost had encouraged me to include a blog as a regular part of the website; and so in January 2010, I reached out to a worldwide audience hoping that words of hope and help would spark interest and inspiration to take steps into recovery or open faith-based doors to those in need of recovery.  

Heading into this new decade of GRM Blog outreach, I tossed around ideas for the “first” blog post.  Somehow, a revolutionary, never-before idea or concept about problem gambling recovery didn’t stick on the wall. Rather wisdom from the pastAKA, 20/20 Hindsight – remained - and it seemed a perfect time to recall many of the gold nuggets from previous entries. Therefore, I’m filling Post 125 with snippets of wisdom from the past ten years!

Post 90  At the beginning of this new year, a number of resolutions or goals are being pondered. We may look at the past twelve (or more!) months and wonder, Why?  We may be trying to sort out what may have gone wrong, why did things happen as they did, … what factors played a role in how things turned out.  Perhaps, there will be no definitive answers.  Possibly, the Why? question doesn’t even need to be replayed (especially over and over).  It’s the moving-on that matters now.   (2016 … The Year the Christmas Tree Fell –Twice: WHY??)

Post 89  How would it be if we start off defining HOPE as an expectation which is God-derived … that the foundation of HOPE comes from a desire/an anticipation instilled within each of our hearts by God.  In other words, let us see HOPE, as God's gift - given to us, in response to our prayers for HOPE - specific to our own circumstances … and that in doing so, become filled with hope in ways that we would never expect.  (Giving Hope)

Post 54  Consider the expression, time is money.  As you have been in recovery, calculate how much time further ahead you are, financially speaking, now that you have spent less time involved in gambling activities/thoughts/actions to hide gambling, etc.  Recovery?  Time is money!    (It's About Time)

Post 63  Find others successfully in recovery; learn from them, notice how they value themselves AND how they value you for yourself!  (FEAR: Is It Sealing Your Fate?)

Post 102  Working toward a better - not necessarily the best or perfect - seems more do-able and … better can become better, better, and even better!  (About Essentials) 

Post 56   Set deadlines and milestones BUT be realistic and make them measurable.  (Again: be realistic!)  Use great role models - persons who inspire you (persons you know AND/OR those you only know about).  (Climbing the Steps: Setting Goals and Reaching Them)

Post 107  It is essential that we realize – and accept – that we do not have to rely solely on our own power to enter into the process of forgiveness.  (referring to Step 2 of the 12 Steps to Recovery)  (Are We Forgiven?)

Post 101  It is our choice to allow God's wisdom and guidance to become and take on an active response within us.  Plainly speaking, not seeking God's wisdom, direction, and guidance - no doubt - places us right back in the feeling of being distant from God.  (What Are You Waiting for This Advent?)  

Post 21  Do you tell yourself THANK YOU! for not following through with self-destruction? Do you tell yourself  THANK YOU! for saying YES to RECOVERY ?  (A Giving Thanks Screen)

Finally, a parting – and memorable - piece of wisdom comes from a years-ago recovery conference.  Stated simply by Anonymous, I have recounted these words many times:  Anything I’ll put in front of my recovery, I’ll lose.  

May the start of this new decade be for you the beginnings of wondrous, joyful, and surprising recoveries that will take you through the years to come!


Rev. Janet Jacobs, CCGSO

Founding Director

Gambling Recovery Ministries

For more information on the IGCCB Clergy/Lay Minister Certification visit:

For more information on gambling disorder and recovery issues



Saturday, December 14, 2019

Post 124


Gambling = risking something of value, usually money (but not always!), on the outcome of an event decided at least partially by chance

The above is generally accepted as an accurate definition for gambling.  Of course, it’s been interpreted, in a variety of ways.  To some, charity bingo is just a game (never mind that cash-to-play is involved).  It’s a kid’s game … right?  Lottery tickets?  You buy them at a grocery store, not the casino … couldn’t be gambling.   Raffles at church?  Now, you’ve gone  too far, Janet … it’s for a good cause!  

And then, there are the online video games.  Yes, one can play online free … but like many online games, there are more than enough opportunities – built into the games - to pay for various ways to enhance your playing progress and prowess.

Can a person actually find himself/herself sensing compulsions to play - and edgy when not in action online, regardless of any or no money spent?  Sadly, the answer may be Yes.

Incredible profits are made by the online game industry:  just search-engine the games and ask the question.  You’ll be amazed.   Still, this Post, is not to bash the profit-making.  Rather the massive profits indicate that video gaming has quite a large audience, in number and in repeat playing. 

Still, how do some owners of free on-line games create huge, profit-making enterprises? In the past, games commonly offered extras (with real-world prices) for the players to experience deeper levels of play or more esthetically pleasing game pieces, for example.  Then too, virtual characters’ endurance could be bought with real-world money.  The purchases were for specific merchandise:  you knew what you were buying.

Lately, however, loot boxes have entered the scene.  What are they?  Well, do you remember “grab bags” often sold at carnivals or fairs?  The contents were not known to the customer.  Sometimes, the purchase contained items well worth the money for which you blindly paid; other times, not!  Loot boxes present opportunities for the buyer to open (again with real-world money) a container of sorts sporting, presumably, contents that will enable valuable enhancements for play -  if “lucky” !  However, there is always the chance that not much of anything desirable for play will occupy the container.

David Zendle, Rachel Meyer, and Harriet Over researched the topic, Adolescents and Loot Boxes: Links with Problem Gambling and Motivations for Purchase (their study was published June 19, 2019).  Interestingly, the inclusions of mystery, chance, and surprise in purchasing loot box contents have attracted players to keep on playing - big-time.  So enticing is the element of luck there are now concerns among academics and the industry’s regulators that certain characteristics of loot boxes may be more strongly linked to the development of problem gambling than others.


Zendle, Meyer, and Over go on to list certain loot box features that bid repeat and/or extended continuing play.  It is concerning to see that many of them are similar elements found in commercial gambling venues that may attract and encourage gamblers to gamble beyond their safe limits.

Here is what to watch for:

  • ·        the contents of some loot boxes can be re-sold for profit

  • ·        some contents give game-play advantages

  • ·        near misses are featured in some loot boxes
    ·        when real-world money is required to purchase in-game currency, the real-world price             of the loot box may be masked
  • ·     free loot boxes may be granted (in-play) under certain conditions  – which may then   encourage extended or habitual play
  • ·      some loot boxes may contain in-play currency that can be used to invest in more loot boxes
  • ·      availability to access certain loot boxes may be time limited  

      Additionally, other researchers have begun to take a hard look, as well, at the possible/probable link between problem gambling and problem gaming in adulthood.  Here are a few questions, from Computer Gaming Addicts Anonymous and geared to the gamer that may help identify possible problem gaming derived from excessive video game playing. 

Source:   For additional questions, go to:


  • ·        Do you set rules or limits with gaming and then break them, playing longer or more frequently than intended?

  • ·        Do you lose hours or sleep from gaming?
  • ·        Do you find yourself gaming whenever you have free time?
  • ·        Do you often re-live gaming experiences or think about future ones?
  • ·        Do you get very angry when someone or something interrupts a game?       
  • ·        Do you hide or lie about your gaming?

In addition to loot boxes and video games in general, when it comes to gift-giving, the traditional reminders are still as essential as they have always been.  In the United States, there are officially legislated age limits for gambling whether it be 18 or 21.  Healthy reasons back why these are established.


Lottery tickets are for ADULTS ONLY … no matter how cute, pretty, or child-centric they look!

Play gambling sets come with PLAY MONEY … use it, not real-world money.

Sports Betting is NOT FOR KIDS, regardless of the game, tournament, contest, or any other aspect of the bet. 


We are in a season for several weeks now when faith communities, worldwide, participate in holy observances, celebrating with special events, religious services, and often gift-giving. 

The foundations of these celebrations are deeply meaningful.  Let us not forget them in the midst of our (sometimes hectic) holidays! 

  SO …   



Rev. Janet Jacobs, CCGSO

Founding Director

Gambling Recovery Ministries

For more information on the IGCCB Clergy/Lay Minister Certification visit:

For more information on gambling disorder and recovery issues


Monday, November 25, 2019

Post 123  


In earlier GRM Blog posts, I have told stories of  how a single question, a call to the GA Hotline, or a simple click on the keyboard has lead to journeys unknown and never-thought-of  before.  Results occurred that changed lives … mine and others.

In Post 2, It was a Cold and Snowy Night, the very beginnings of Gambling Recovery Ministries were hatched from the question, And what are the churches doing about it?  Never, ever, ever was there an inspiration inside my outreach-ministry mindset to reach out to persons affected by problem gambling.  Still, the question was posed – and there was no answer, except (sadly) Nothing.  It was the “right time and the right place” for such a beginning, actually.  The two persons asking the question were in position to expand the possibility and make it happen.  And they had their “Founding Director” sitting in front of them - who couldn’t believe what was being said and relegated to her!

During the founding days of GRM, it was apparent that the newly created Board needed to learn more about gambling addiction and recovery issues.  With a deep breath, I called the nearby GA Hotline to see if someone could provide information – and not think that we were some kind of competing religious group.  Sure enough, this one phone call opened new – and very helpful – channels of communication.  The person on the volunteer shift provided much information and an invitation to celebrations of abstinence (called Pinnings) and to Gam-Anon Meetings.  One of the best events I have ever attended was the Workshop that our Board sponsored for any GA and Gam-Anon Members to come and speak about how both organizations provide support and help to persons impacted directly or indirectly by compulsive gambling.  Over the years, I have met many courageous people in recovery -  and gladly, have referred persons to GA and Gam-Anon. What valuable resources these two organizations are! 

Then there is GRM’s involvement with San Diego’s incredible Christ Ministry Center that came about as a result with one quick keyboard click.  You’ll see the story in Post 42, August: Expansion!!  Who knew that – for example – a desperate-to-stay-abstinent person would call me from a Las Vegas hotel room … a referral from the Center provided this connection. 

Again, there’s another story to tell!  As this edition’s title relates, an additional, expanding outreach to problem gamblers, and their family members/friends, began with one tiny statement.  Over the years with this ministry, I have come to know many remarkable professionals who work on behalf of recovery support for those with a gambling disorder and their concerned others. 

Whether my colleagues are therapists, prevention specialists, researchers, professors, administrators, or Directors of Councils on Problem Gambling, there is a shared sense of dedication to provide the best care possible and knowledge about gambling addiction. One such person is Curtis Barrett, Ph.D. Founder of the Kentucky Council on Problem Gambling in 1995.  Dr. Barrett continues to see new possibilities for extending the highest quality of support to those seeking and in the process of recovery. 

Several times, Dr. Barrett and I had co-presented educational programming, when in early 2013 we were having still another conversation about outreach to gamblers.  Suddenly, Dr. Barrett said, Janet, we’re just going to need to get you certified! [as in Certified Gambling Counselor].  My knee-jerk reply was,  I’m not a [clinical] counselor; I’m a pastor!  It took only a speck of time for Dr. Barrett to reply that there should be created some kind of certification for clergy to serve within faith-based settings as the best-equipped first responders to parishioners affected by disordered gambling.  Instantly, this possibility took hold in our conversation.  

Though I favored this idea, I had no background for creating such a credential.  However, I trusted Dr. Barrett’s history of being a foundational leader in the field.  Then too, he was a long-standing Board Member of the American Compulsive Gambling Counselor Certification Board – of which I had been serving, also, for about two years. 

By spring, we had proposed the concept of an American Board (non-clinical) Clergy Certification to Jeffrey Beck, the President of the Board.  At the May Board Meeting, I presented a multi-page form to describe the proposed credential and subsequently, was assigned to head up a committee to formulate such a certification.  Preliminary conversations took place that summer; and in September, the American Board voted to give the green light, officially, to the committee to create the certification.

What followed were e-mail meetings, teleconferences, and on-site working sessions involving a terrific group of serious planners.  There were many discussions and questions to answer. On June 27, 2014, the American Board’s Clergy/Lay Minister Certification in Gambling Addiction Prevention, Education, Awareness, and Spiritual Outreach Care was approved!  We were then to have our first 4-Module Training in November in New Jersey.  The rest is history!

So far, we have also held the Trainings in Kentucky, Indiana, Ohio, Maryland, Massachusetts, and this coming April 2020 in Davenport, Iowa, along with interest in Delaware and Minnesota.  One key piece of information to highlight is that in 2016, the American Board and the International Gambling Counselor Certification Board merged; and the Clergy/Lay Minister Certification has continued with the newly merged Board.  PLUS possibilities of expanding internationally are now in discussion!



Rev. Janet Jacobs, CCGSO

Founding Director

Gambling Recovery Ministries

For more information on the IGCCB Clergy/Lay Minister Certification visit:

For more information on gambling disorder and recovery issues


Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Post 122



In the world of gambling news, there has been much to say recently about sports betting and the legalization, thereof.  Immediate thoughts go to pro sports – but there’s more.  No longer will the final outcomes of games and matches suffice to satisfy the bettor’s appetite.  Wagers will blanket the entire sporting event from before the beginning to after the end: the starting lineup? the most valuable player?  the least valuable player? the most hot-headed? the biggest disappointment?  the turning point?

Moreover, today’s unlimited communication modes open up versions of arenas/stadiums, grandstands beyond the perspectives of  brick-and-mortar dimensions.  As well, betting devices are expanding by category from casino options to social media games. 

Come December, I’ll share information on some of these options that should  come with warnings.  Watch for the title, Presents, Presents … and the Presence of Gambling.  

For this month’s issue, I offer several articles and taped interviews to help bring us up to date on the expansions in gambling  – and therefore, prepare us for watchfulness and prevention strategies in terms of  at-risk opportunities in developing gambling problems – at any age!

The following are from Keith’s Clips, an e-news brief from Keith Whyte, Executive Director of the National Council on Problem Gambling


·        PBS Newshour on Social Casinos  (social casinos apps)

·        CNBC on Sports Gambling and Problem Gambling

·        OZY on Microbetting & Sports

·        Axios on Artificial Intelligence & Gambling

·        NCAA Champion Magazine on Sports Betting


·        The New Yorker on Poker

·        Chicago Tribune on Historical Sports Gambling Scandals

Finally, I extend another reminder of the upcoming International Gambling Counselor Certification Board’s CLERGY/LAY MINISTER CERTIFICATION TRAININGS

The IGCCB certification provides a process for recognizing and certifying clergy, lay ministers, religious persons, and other faith leaders to offer informed guidance, educational materials, support, hope, spiritual care, and help to individuals and families affected by problem gambling and addiction.

·        Southern Maryland: 

      MODULE 3 on November 2, 2019 

            MODULE 4 on December 7, 2019

Maryland Center for Addiction Treatment

11100 Billingley Rd.

Waldorf MD 20602


·           Columbus, Ohio on October29-November 1, 2019.    MODULES 1, 2, 3, 4


Sponsored by the Problem Gambling Network of Ohio, with support from OhioMHAS,

the training will be held October 29-November 1, 2019. Attendees must complete all four days of the training in order to be eligible for certification. The cost for the training is $50**, which will include all coursework, breakfast & lunch for each day.

[**Additionally, there is an administration fee of $50 for certification, however PGNO will pay the IGCCB administrative fee, provided all certification requirements are met.]

A light breakfast and lunch will be provided for each training day, and sessions will be held from 9:00 a.m.- 4:30 p.m. at Ohio Department of Natural Resources, 2045 Morse Rd, Bldg E, Assembly Room East and West, Columbus, OH, 43229. Pre-registration is required and seating is limited.

For logistical questions contact Derek Longmeier at or (614) 750-9899; for course content questions, contact Rev. Janet Jacobs at or (812) 290-3022.


Rev. Janet Jacobs, CCGSO

Founding Director

Gambling Recovery Ministries

For more information on gambling disorder and recovery issues

and the IGCCB Clergy/Lay Minister Certification visit: