2004-03-08 12:54:31.88

Problem Gambling Week Heightens Awareness

Missouri’s problem gambling organization is joining in the second National Problem Gambling Awareness Week scheduled from March 8-14. Members of the Missouri Alliance to Curb Problem Gambling will be participating in a variety of activities to raise awareness of the dangers of problem gambling and the availability and benefits of problem-gambling treatment.

During the national awareness week, communities nationwide are working to raise awareness of the consequences of problem gambling and the resources available for individuals whose gambling is causing disruption in their lives.

In Missouri, the week’s activities are being kicked off on Friday, March 5, with a training event at the University of Missouri-Columbia for Partners in Prevention. This organization, which is made up college and university counselors and prevention professionals from throughout the state, received a grant last fall to help determine the extent of problem gambling among Missouri’s college students, to provide training for college professionals and students on how to address the issue and to create awareness materials. The grant was provided through the Port Authority of Kansas City and the Missouri Gaming Commission, two members of the Alliance.

The Alliance also will be providing an educational booth at the annual meeting of the Missouri Chapter of the National Association of Social Workers March 10-12 in Jefferson City.

"National Problem Gambling Awareness Week is an effort to raise awareness of problem-gambling issues and the availability of treatment throughout the country," said Keith Spare, chairman of the Alliance and president of the Missouri Council on Problem Gambling.

"It’s also a celebration of the men and women who are overcoming problems associated with their gambling behavior, and a recognition of the treatment professionals who are uniquely trained to assist problem gamblers and their loved ones," Spare said.

"A primary focus of this effort is to promote the fact that treatment works and is available in Missouri," he said. "In order to make a positive impact in Missouri, we need to be sure that the individuals and families who are in need of our services are able to access them."

Free problem gambling treatment for disordered gambling is available in Missouri to problem gamblers and the loved ones of problem gamblers. Information about treatment options in Missouri is available through the 24-hour toll-free problem gambling help line, 1-888-BETSOFF (1-888-238-7633).

"Throughout the year, we promote the availability of free treatment, but participating in the national effort this week provides us with an opportunity to further educate Missouri residents about problem-gambling issues and that help is just a phone call away," Spare said.

Spare said Missouri is a national leader in problem gambling programs and was the first state to hold a statewide awareness week. In August, the Alliance will sponsor its sixth annual Responsible Education Month with a four-state regional conference. The Midwest Conference on Problem Gambling and Substance Abuse will be held Aug. 11-13 in Kansas City. The conference is co-sponsored by the Alliance and is being organized by the Association of Problem Gambling Service Administrators with representatives from Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska and Iowa.

For more information about the national week, visit the Alliance’s Web site at: www.888BETSOFF.com.


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