Pennsylvania offers help for gambling addiction

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To recognize March as National Problem Gambling Awareness Month, the state departments of Drug and Alcohol Programs (DDAP) and Agriculture have teamed with the Pennsylvania Lottery and the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) to promote resources intended to help individuals with a gambling addiction.

 

To seek confidential help for yourself or a loved one, visit www.paproblemgambling.com or call 1-877-565-2112 or 1-800-848-1880.

 

The warning signs of a gambling addiction can include:

  • Denying there is a problem;
  • Lying about where the money is going;
  • Borrowing money to gamble or pay off debts;
  • Missing work to gamble;
  • Losing touch with friends;
  • Looking for the “high” that comes from gambling; and/or
  • Feeling powerless to stop gambling.

 

“For most individuals, gambling is harmless. However for a small percentage of individuals, gambling becomes a behavioral disorder that disrupts an individual’s life and the lives of the people around them,” said Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs Acting Secretary Gary Tennis.  “Treatment is available for those with gambling addiction and we encourage them to seek the help right away.”

 

DDAP has approved 101 problem gambling treatment providers across the state offering counseling services to those in need. No-cost training and case consultation is also provided to clinicians seeking to enhance their skills in the treatment of problem gambling.

 

In 2014, the Pennsylvania Gambling Helpline received more than 17,000 calls from men and women ranging in age from teens to older adults. Callers sought problem gambling help related to slots, other casino games, card games, lottery, horse racing, video poker, sports betting, and internet gambling. Similar to prior years, individuals most frequently reported financial issues, family and marital issues, and mental health issues as their reasons for calling the helpline.

 

“In addition to the hotline and counseling help, the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board offers individuals who have a gambling problem an effective way to keep themselves out of PA casinos through voluntary self-exclusion,” said William H. Ryan, Jr., Chairman of the PGCB. “A person who wishes to be placed on our Self-Exclusion List can obtain more details on our website, but can also speak with our staff in Harrisburg or at any casino about being placed on the list.”

 

The PGCB’s website is www.gambingcontrolboard.pa.gov, and phone is 717-346-8300.

 

To date, more than 8,000 individuals have requested to be placed on the Self-Exclusion List.

 

As part of its social responsibility mission, the Pennsylvania Lottery funds and heavily promotes the Pennsylvania Gambling Helpline. The toll-free number, along with messages encouraging responsible play, appears on tickets, advertising, and the nightly televised drawing show. The Lottery also reminds players that they must be 18 or older.

 

“It’s important to know how to recognize the warning signs of a gambling problem,” said Pennsylvania Lottery Acting Lottery Executive Director Drew Svitko. “We urge our players to promptly seek help if they think they or someone they care about may have a problem.”

 

In 2014, the Pennsylvania Lottery sought and received the World Lottery Association’s Level 2 Responsible Gaming Certification based upon a self-assessment of its responsible gaming practices. The Lottery continues to explore avenues to enhance those practices.

 

“Competitive horse racing is a long-standing recreational pastime, said Acting Secretary of Agriculture Russell Redding. “With that said, we encourage any individuals participating in any type of gaming to do so responsibly. If someone is experiencing a problem with gambling, there are resources and services available to help.”

 

During March, the Council on Compulsive Gambling of Pennsylvania, Inc. – together with sponsoring partners including DDAP, the Pennsylvania Lottery, PGCB, the University of Pittsburgh School of Social Work, and the Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic – will hold two conferences dealing with problem gambling.

 

The first conference, “Explorations: New Ways of Addressing Gambling Disorder,” will be held March 3 in Bensalem, Bucks County. The second conference, “Connections: A Focus on Treatment, Prevention & Recovery,” is slated for March 6 in Pittsburgh. For more information on these events, visit the Council on Compulsive Gambling of Pennsylvania, Inc., online at www.pacouncil.com.

 

Additionally, a booth to raise awareness of problem gambling and available resources will be in the following locations on the following dates:

  • March 6, 13, and 20; 11:00 AM to 1:30 PM – Strawberry Square Atrium, Harrisburg
  • March 5, 10, 19, and 20; 11:00 AM to 1:30 PM – Capitol Rotunda, Harrisburg

 

For more information about problem gambling, or to seek help for yourself or a loved one, visit www.paproblemgambling.com or call 1-877-565-2112 or 1-800-848-1880.