The Missouri Alliance to Curb Problem Gambling (MACPG) is joining the nationwide effort to encourage responsible gaming during National Problem Gambling Awareness Week, March 3-9, by distributing a series of free public service announcements to radio and television stations.
The nationwide awareness week is sponsored by the National Council on Problem Gambling (NCPG). During the awareness week, local organizations, like MACPG, work alongside NCPG to highlight local and national awareness efforts.
This year’s theme, “Problem Gambling: A New Understanding of a Community Concern,” is a grassroots campaign developed to raise awareness about the help that is available locally and nationally.
In Missouri, problem gamblers and their loved ones can call the toll-free problem gambling help line, 1-888-BETSOFF (1-888-238-7633), 24 hours a day, seven days per week, a service sponsored by Provident, Inc. in St. Louis.
“In addition to calling Missouri’s help line, people can also email firstname.lastname@example.org to request a list of counselors nearest to the concerned party’s county,” explained Heather Barnett, clinical specialist at Provident, Inc.
Barnett added that help is not only available for problem gamblers, but their family members or loved ones can also contact the help line for free assistance.
“Missouri has a network of trained problem gambling counselors throughout the state,” Barnett noted. “Counseling is a problem gamblers best chance at recovery.”
MACPG chairperson and Missouri Lottery Communications Manager Susan Goedde said the Lottery is making responsible gaming brochures available at all of the Lottery’s retail locations.
“The Lottery takes responsible gaming very seriously,” Goedde declared, adding that the Lottery, on behalf of the Alliance, is issuing an informational payroll notification to state employees highlighting how to get help and promoting the availability of free treatment and support resources via the Lottery’s blog, MOLotteryblog.com, website, MOLottery.com and Alliance’s website, 888betsoff.org.
On a national level, NCPG is providing free public service announcements, flyers, brochures and other materials on their website, Npgaw.org.
NCPG Executive Director Keith Whyte noted that out of the millions of Americans experiencing a gambling problem each year, only a small percentage seeks help.
“Our mission is to increase awareness of pathological gambling, ensure widespread availability of treatment and to encourage research for prevention and education,” Whyte began. “Recovery is possible, but those impacted by problem gambling must take the first step, which is seeking help from trained professionals.”
The Missouri Alliance to Curb Problem Gambling, which was created in 1997, is a partnership between 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, the Missouri Lottery, the Port Authority of Kansas City and a recovery community representative.
The purpose of the Alliance is to educate Missourians on the potential characteristics and dangers of problem and compulsive gambling, to refer compulsive gamblers and their family and friends to free treatment through a toll-free help line, to prevent underage play and to promote responsible gaming.