2009-03-01 14:13:03.937

National Problem Gambling Week Heightens Awareness

National Problem Gambling Awareness Week kicked off on March 1 and it will run through March 7.  According to the National Council on Problem Gambling (NCPG), during this awareness week, communities nationwide are working to increase the recognition of the consequences of problem gambling and the resources available for individuals whose gambling is causing disruption in their lives.

The release of public service announcements (PSAs) to promote Missouri’s problem-gambling help line, 1-888-BETSOFF (1-888-238-7633), and participation in awareness events highlight Missouri’s efforts in the seventh annual National Problem Gambling Awareness Week.

The radio and television PSAs were provided by the Missouri Alliance to Curb Problem Gambling, which is a partnership between the Missouri Lottery Commission, the Missouri Council on Problem Gambling Concerns Inc., the Missouri Department of Mental Health’s Division of Alcohol and Drug Abuse, the Missouri Gaming Association, the Missouri Gaming Commission and the Port Authority of Kansas City.

"Throughout the year, the Alliance promotes 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," said Michael Winter, chairman of the Alliance and executive director for the Missouri Gaming Association.

The awareness week is designed to educate the general public and health care professionals about the warning signs of problem gambling and raise awareness about the help that is available both locally and nationally.

The Alliance-sponsored Bets Off Web site features a wealth of information about problem gambling including compulsive gambling warning signs.  Exhibiting five or more of the following compulsive gambling symptoms may indicate a gambling problem:

  • Frequent thoughts about past experiences, future plans or how to get money for gambling;
  • Urges to increase spending in order to reach a high level of excitement;
  • Failure to stop or control gambling;
  • Restless and/or irritable feelings when attempting to cut back or stop gambling;
  • Recurrent desires to "get even" after experiencing losses;
  • Attempts to tell others lies about your gambling habits;
  • Thoughts about engaging in illegal acts to finance gambling (or actual participation in illegal acts);
  • Job, school or relationship problems due to gambling; and
  • Tendency to relay on others for financial assistance.

If you have experienced any of the compulsive gambling symptoms or know anyone else who has, free problem gambling treatment is available.   Information about treatment options in Missouri is accessible through the 24-hour toll-free problem gambling help line, 1-888-BETSOFF, or by visiting the Alliance’s Web site at www.888betsoff.org.

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