Welcome to the Division on Addiction’s Gambling Disorder Screening Day: A Guide for Screeners. This guide will help you plan for the upcoming event and feel prepared when Screening Day arrives. As always, feel free to reach out to info@divisiononaddiction.org with any questions.


An Introduction to Screening Day

Screening Day is an annual, one-day event intended to educate and support providers in screening for Gambling Disorder. Screening helps to identify individuals who should seek further assessment for potential gambling-related problems. It does not provide a diagnosis. Each year, this event takes place on the second Tuesday in March, which is Problem Gambling Awareness Month.

Client-facing organizations, community groups, other organizations, and individuals can participate in this event by screening people for Gambling Disorder on Screening Day. We refer to this as ‘hosting’ a Screening Day event and these participants are called ‘Screeners.’

Anyone can host. This grassroots event is open to everyone interested. You do not need to be a gambling-specific organization to screen. Some other organizations who could screen are:

  • Addiction service providers
  • Mental health service providers
  • Physicians (e.g., primary care and emergency medicine)
  • Gerontologists
  • Pediatricians
  • Educators
  • Youth community leaders
  • Employee Assistance Plan service providers
  • Veterans groups
  • Corrections officials

Many cases of Gambling Disorder go undetected, in part due to limited assessment for this problem. Relatedly, very few people experiencing gambling-related problems actually receive treatment. Screening for Gambling Disorder by mental health providers is important, because many individuals experiencing gambling harms might already be seeking services for other expressions of addiction or mental health concerns. By screening clients in your setting, you are well positioned to find clients struggling with Gambling Disorder who may not have otherwise been connected with resources. Check out Why Screen for Gambling Disorder? for more information.

We provide a free Gambling Disorder Screening Day Toolkit to make hosting easy. This Toolkit is freely available to the public and no registration is required to use these resources. We will guide you through how to use the Toolkit in the following sections. However, it is helpful to us when organizations register. This allows us to promote your organization, and guides our yearly Toolkit updates to ensure it contains everything you need for a successful Screening Day. If you would like to register, please email info@divisiononaddiction.org and we will add you to our communications list. We will then know to promote and thank your organization on our website and social media platforms as one of our screening partners.


Getting Started

1. Familiarize yourself and your staff with the Gambling Disorder Screening Day Toolkit. We provide an instructional video that gives an overview of our Gambling Disorder Screening Day Toolkit.

2. How knowledgeable are you and/or your organization about Gambling Disorder? If you need some background information, read What is Gambling Disorder? and Treating Addiction as a Syndrome. You should also watch How Gambling Becomes an Addiction.

3. Familiarize yourself and your staff with the Brief Biosocial Gambling Screen (BBGS). This is a three-question screener that you and your staff can use on Screening Day. A “yes” response to any single item indicates potential gambling-related problems and the need for additional evaluation. A “yes” response is not a diagnosis for Gambling Disorder. Your organization should develop a plan for how to screen on Screening Day. The BBGS is available in printable and electronic forms to best fit the needs of your staff.

4. Email us if you’d like to order print copies of the BBGS pocket screener. These folded business cards allow individuals to take the BBGS on the go and includes the National Problem Gambling Helpline. Orders will be processed in 1-3 business days, so please order in advance to allow time to ship.

5. Customize the Screening Day flyer. The Division provides a free downloadable flyer template, which you can customize for your screening location. Update this flyer with your program’s information, and display it with your announcements to let everyone know that you are hosting a Screening Day event. Distribute it to community partners, send it to clients, display it in your waiting room, or include it in your weekly email!

6. Search for local organizations to whom you may refer clients who screen positive on the BBGS. Options vary state to state. For example, a Massachusetts screener may refer clients to the national helpline, state helpline, one of the state organizations on our referrals page, or another organization they already work with. As you prepare, find similar organizations in your area to connect clients with.


What to do the Week before Screening Day

1. Make sure to share information about Gambling Disorder and Screening Day through your channels. Tweet or post about the event (#GamblingScreen #GDSDToolkit, #GDSD), feature it in your newsletter, and talk about it with colleagues. Screening Day is an international grassroots event that uses word of mouth as its primary mode of sharing information and resources.

2. You and your staff should develop a plan for how to proceed when an individual screens positive with the BBGS. Screening Positive for Gambling Disorder: Guidance for Providers provides information to help your organization prepare. Familiarize yourself with our free resources, including referral and hotline information and a self-help workbook titled Your First Step to Change.


What to do on Screening Day

1. It’s time to screen. Let clients know today is Screening Day, and explain why you’re screening everyone today and request consent to proceed. Next, go through the three questions on the BBGS with them.

a. If clients screen negative: let the client know they screened negative. Offer to share further resources with them if they express interest or are concerned about their gambling or a loved-one’s gambling. Direct them to the Division’s website or the Brief Addiction Science Information Source (BASIS), and conduct the rest of the visit as you normally would.

b. If clients screen positive: let the client know they screened positive and need further assessment. Make clear that this is not a diagnosis, but is an indication that they would benefit from formal assessment for Gambling Disorder beyond the brief screen. Next, if your organization already has an established protocol, you can conduct further diagnostic assessment. If your organization does not already conduct assessments, you should take steps to connect them to proper resources. This could include referring them to the National Problem Gambling Helpline at (800) 522-4700 or a regional or statewide hotline in your area. In addition, you should share hotline, referral, and self-help information with the client as appropriate.


What to do after Screening Day

1. Fill out the Host Data Reporting Form to help us plan for the future (optional). This short form tells us how many people you invited to participate and how they screened on Screening Day. This provides the Division with insight about screening needs, the event’s growth and reach, and what we can do to improve.


Hosting During the Pandemic

We recognize that this year’s Screening Day may look different in light of the COVID-19 pandemic–many of you will be screening remotely. The BBGS page includes an e-screener that can be utilized online to make remote screening easier for you. Please note: If sharing links to any resources in a chat feature of a video call, we recommend sending a follow-up email with those links as well, as chat messages disappear after a call on many platforms. Screening for Gambling Disorder during the COVID-19 Pandemic provides additional information about how to screen during these unprecedented times.


Overview of Toolkit Items

This section will provide an item-by-item overview of this year’s Gambling Disorder Screening Day Toolkit, including what the item is and how to use it to improve your Screening Day experience.

  • The Brief Biosocial Gambling Screen (BBGS) – The main element within the Gambling Disorder Screening Day toolkit is the gambling screener. The toolkit provides both a printable and online screener, and you should use whichever is better suited to your program. The e-screener is available in 22 languages to best meet the needs of your client population. At this time, the printable BBGS is only available in English. You can either ask your clients the questions verbally, or hand them the paper or tablet to fill out the screener on their own. A “yes” answer to any of these questions indicates a need for further assessment.
  • Instructional Video: Gambling Disorder Screening Day Toolkit – This instructional video provides an overview of our Gambling Disorder Screening Day Toolkit.
  • Screening Positive for Gambling Disorder: Guidance for Providers – If clients answer yes to any questions on the BBGS, they will need further assessment. This document outlines steps to take, whether or not your program regularly screens for Gambling Disorder.
  • Screening for Gambling Disorder during the COVID-19 Pandemic – This resource provides information for providers detailing how to screen for Gambling Disorder during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • What is Gambling Disorder? – This is a one page summary of Gambling Disorder. It includes a plain language definition and the DSM-V criteria.
  • Why Screen for Gambling Disorder? – This one page description gives an overview of the value of screening for Gambling Disorder. Share it with your colleagues or administration leading up to the big day, or with clients on Screening Day to let them know why you’re participating.
  • BBGS Pocket Screener – This is a printed version of the BBGS that you can order in advance if you’d like. Email us to let us know how many you’d like (limit 50) and we will ship them to you.
  • Screening Day Flyer Template – Download our customizable flyer and input your program’s information. Then print them out and display it to your clients digitally or in print.
  • Host Data Reporting Form – Fill out this google form to let us know how Screening Day went. You are not required to report data, but it is helpful as we design next year’s toolkit.
  • Key Hotlines – Keep this information on hand and easily accessible. This page includes not only the gambling hotline, but information for other hotlines for needs that are often co-occurring with Gambling Disorder.
  • Referrals – These organizations accept referrals for problem gambling services. This list is non-exhaustive, and a hotline may be able to provide area specific organizations for you as well.
  • How Gambling Becomes an Addiction – One minute video from Dr. Howard Shaffer describing how gambling can become an addiction. This resource can be shared with any patient who is interested to watch in their own time, or to screen in your waiting area.
  • Your First Step to Change – This is a self-help toolkit to start a client on their journey to recovery from Gambling Disorder. It is available as a PDF here, and can be printed and distributed.
  • Other Resources – Check out this page for resources that you may use beyond Screening Day, or may want to recommend to clients who seem interested in learning more or screen positive.

For further inquiries, visit our website, or reach out to us directly at info@divisiononaddiction.org.