By Janet Jacobs

Under the influence of inspiration expressed by episcopal leadership within Together's July/August 2007 edition, I begin to perceive imagining-thoughts about our State of Indiana in light of the two articles (also, in the same issue) that focused on gambling.

Interestingly, snippets from the titles provide diverging implications: "Problem Gambling Conference a Success" "Indiana Sinks Deeper." Pairing this composite with Bishop Mike's invitation for us to "keep dreaming the kind of Indiana that God imagines and how we can become a part of that movement of God," both reality and developing reality (sometimes termed "the future") come to mind.

Most emphatically, in January 2001, when the proposal to initiate a new outreach to problem gamblers and their loved ones was offered to me, my human instincts responded, "God, Your thoughts are definitely not my thoughts!"

Never, could (and would) I have imagined what was to develop.

Thus we took, and continue to take, always-new steps within Gambling Recovery Ministries that remains a regional (and points beyond) one-of-a-kind, faith-based outreach in the United States and, perhaps, in the world.

In the following, fittingly entitled Imagine!, you will read spoken comments and true stories and reports, which have been presented to me over the past six years. Expressed, first, are reflections of reality that may remain today. By contrast, the second part includes images and statements that, hopefully, will continue to progress and flourish.


  • The 1998 Louisiana State University study of problem gambling in Indiana found 5.3 percent adults were problem gamblers and 0.8 percent were compulsive [pathological] gamblers . adolescents in grades 6-12 had a problem gambling rate of 11.2 percent and a compulsive gambling rate of 7.5 percent That was 1998, prior to the Texas Hold'em/Poker craze.

  • National trends in gambling participation from 1975-1999 found adult gambling increased from 68 percent to 86 percent and women's patterns have grown to resemble those of men (National Gambling Impact Study Commission of 1999).

  • Often heard: "We don't have too many people in our area who gamble; I don't know of anyone who has gambling problems."

  • Disordered gambling is an invisible problem: gamblers can chase highs for longer periods without being noticed . and;

  • Children of compulsive gamblers have a much harder time understanding consequences, as the family gambling problem is less concrete. (ABC Wellness Center, Scottsdale, Arizona) They, also, tend to have more difficulty with forgiveness issues.

  • The 1999 National Gambling Impact Study Commission stated that within 50 miles of a casino, the rate of problem gambling doubles.


  • From an international trainer of gambling addiction counseling: "Anything you [Gambling Recovery Ministries] can do in this field is significant!"

  • The State of Indiana ranks second in the nation with regard to tax revenues received from the gambling industry (American Gaming Association).

  • A proposed idea for the United Methodist Conference: Each District to have a lead church with pastor trained in gambling addiction prevention and treatment issues. Also, this church would serve as a District Resource Center stocked with materials on problem gambling. District pastors would receive updated information and materials on problem gambling for their parishes.

  • From a recent caller to the GRM office: "I called you because you're the only one in the phone book."

  • Coordinated by the South Indiana Conference and GRM: professional continuing education conferences on problem gambling for all concerned professionals. Located throughout the South Indiana Conference, these training events include spirituality components, as well as other treatment issues.

  • The two addictions of the twenty-first century - gambling and sex. (Workshop The Two Addictions of the New Millennium: The Impact of Technology on Problem Gambling and Sexual Compulsivity, National Council on Problem Gambling Annual Conference, June 2007)

  • Requested Action from GRM's Annual Report, approved by South Indiana Annual Conference 2007: "That the South Indiana Conference encourage a networking collaboration of healing and wholeness among the various Conference outreach ministries that focus on issues of mental and physical health. This network may include (but is not limited to) the outreach programs of Parish Nursing, Gambling Recovery Ministries and Clarian Health Partners, including Congregational Health Ministries Administration and Buchanan Counseling Centers."

May the Holy Spirit bless your thoughts as you consider these stated realities; and may your prayers seek the Lord's footsteps that travel ahead - and lead us - through and beyond the bend.

The Rev. Janet Jacobs welcomes comments and questions related to problem gambling, treatment issues, support group resources, and/or further outreach development possibilities. Contact her at 812-926-1052 (leave a message) or e-mail at

A three-day conference titled "Partnership for the Future: Examining the Impacts of Problem Gambling in Society" will be held Sept. 19-21 at French Lick. Log on to and go to "No Gambling in Indiana" on the home page to click on to a conference brochure.