Responsible Gambling

In any state with gambling, it is vitally important that the state provide resources for responsible gambling. Given that Michigan is a full-service state for both online and retail gambling of many stripes, it should come as no surprise that there are numerous resources available for Michiganders who are suffering.

When is gambling a problem?

Gambling is fun. The thrill of winning on a slot machine or table game is genuinely exciting, and there may not be a more intoxicating sensation than being on a winning streak. For most people in Michigan, gambling is a hobby or pastime. Playing online casino games holds no more appeal than watching a good movie or working on a craft. The dividing line for when gambling passes into a dangerous realm in a people’s lives boils down to their honest answer to a simple question: If I wanted to stop gambling, could I? Problem gamblers, or those who care about them, know that they must answer “no” to that question. They may be in denial about the situation, but at the end of the day, problem gambling goes beyond a person’s decision making skills. It’s even a concern if your answer is anything but a resounding affirmative. If you have any question about whether you could walk away from gambling at a moment’s notice, you may be in need of some help. Thankfully, there are opportunities for you to get the support that you need in Michigan.

What are the options for problem gambling in Michigan?

Problem gamblers and their families are encouraged to seek out the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. All of the resources in the state for problem gambling are managed and aggregated by the MDHHS, and it’s a good place to start on the road to recovery.

The Michigan Problem Gambling Helpline

The first way to reach out to support personnel in Michigan is through the Michigan Problem Gambling Helpline. The phone number for the service is 1-800-270-7117.  The helpline is staffed by experienced and trained support counselors who can assist you in your recovery. The service is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and is toll-free.  Staff members will assist you with the utmost discretion. All communications with the Michigan Problem Gambling Helpline are confidential. You must be a Michigan resident to use the service, however.

Gambling Treatment Program

Michigan also contracts with Health Management Systems of America to coordinate the Gambling Treatment Program. The program provides training and support for the counselors on the helpline mentioned above. It also helps problem gamblers take the next step. Through referrals from counselors, both problem gamblers and their families can receive assessments and treatments from approved problem gambling treatment providers. Finally, the Gambling Treatment Program maintains a speakers bureau as a means of education for the public. The bureau can work with local communities to inform citizens about the potential perils and warning signs of problem gambling.

Support groups

One of the most important pieces of helping someone on the road to recovery is to assure them that they are not alone in their journey. There are numerous support groups that meet weekly in Michigan that join problem gamblers together to commiserate, advise and elevate one another. The most prominent of these groups is Gamblers Anonymous. Gamblers Anonymous brings problem gamblers together in order to strengthen the outcome of recovery for all members.  The state of Michigan plays host to roughly 40 meetings of GA in any given week. In all likelihood, there is a meeting somewhere near your residence if you’d like to attend. Gamblers Anonymous also manages its own Michigan-specific hotline for those who are in distress. Dial 855-2CALLGA (855-222-5542) to reach out to those who understand what you’re going through. Gamblers Anonymous is not the only active support group for problem gamblers in Michigan. GAM-ANON also offers several meetings on a weekly basis.


Like other states with gambling, Michigan maintains a self-exclusion list with its gaming authority. The Michigan Gaming Control Board is more than happy to take requests for exclusion and add you to the Disassociated Persons list. However, this restriction only applies to the three commercial casinos located in Detroit. Because the vast majority of Michigan’s casinos are tribal, you will have to contact them on a case-by-case basis in order to self-exclude at the casinos closest to you. Before you make this move, though, there are two things to bear in mind if you are thinking about self-exclusion. First of all, if you request to be excluded, there is no way to rescind the order if you have second thoughts. It is an irrevocable act. Furthermore, your placement on the Disassociated Persons list is permanent. You will not be permitted to enter the casinos on the list for the rest of your life. It is important to understand how serious this matter is. In effect, you are placing yourself on the radar of many law enforcement authorities in the state. As part of your application, you also agree that Michigan can hold you criminally liable if you enter a casino. You may have to pay a fine and serve time in jail. People on the list have to submit to surrendering their winnings if found in a casino, too. However, if you feel that you’ll never be able to stop gambling, then self-exclusion might be the best thing to do. It is the nuclear option for problem gambling, but it can be a lifesaver for those who are hopelessly afflicted.

Debt and financial counseling

Problem gamblers, more than many other types of addicts, can be unusually affected financially by their conditions. Problem gambling is one of the only addictions in which the primary effect of the illness is the loss of money. Needless to say, problem gamblers often lay waste to their financial resources as they are suffering. So, as you proceed on the road to recovery, it’s probably a good idea to meet with a debt or financial counselor to assess how to dig yourself out of any holes. The state of Michigan recommends reaching out to the National Foundation for Credit Counseling if you’d like to get some help on the financial side of things. Though you never intended for things to go this far, there’s no use in beating yourself up about it, and folks at the NFCC can help you see the path for getting back on the right track.


Problem gambling is a devastating side effect of a terrific activity. Although gambling is fun, it can turn into a nightmare for some. There’s no reason not to take advantage of the numerous resources that Michigan has available for you. The helpline is available right now — don’t suffer a minute longer.