As Powerball jackpot hits record high, experts explain dangers of gambling

GREENVILLE, N.C. (WITN) – The Powerball jackpot has climbed to a record-breaking number.

As more and more people hope to cash in on the monstrous prize, mental health experts are warning people not to get too carried away.

The Powerball jackpot is now at an estimated $1.6 billion, and many people are eager to take a chance on it.

“I feel like everybody has a chance; if you can’t play, you can’t win,” said Sarah Medford, a Greenville resident.

Medford says she loves to play the lottery. In fact, she plays every Monday, Wednesday, and Saturday.

Experts warn that playing the lottery too often can lead to dangerous habits.

“People are losing money, but they are also losing themselves, and it’s jeopardizing work, it’s jeopardizing their ability to pay bills, it’s jeopardizing their family,” NC Problem Gambling Administrator Amanda Winters said.

Experts say about 5.5% of North Carolinians develop a gambling problem during their lives.

Those addictions run on a spectrum from no gambling problems to those who need clinical help. If you think you could be clinically diagnosed with a gambling addiction, experts say help is available.

“It’s a disease, not a decision, and people can and do recover. It doesn’t have to take over your life, and it doesn’t have to be who you are,” Winters said.

Knowing the dangers is especially important for first-time buyers who are catching lotto fever with this historic jackpot.

“The lady inside, she was telling me about the biggest pot ever, and I’ve never played before, so this might be my lucky break,” Greenville resident Robert Cotton said.

The next Powerball drawing will take place Saturday night. It will be on right before WITN News at 11.

If you feel you need help with a gambling addiction, visit here.

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