Did you know that Missouri was the first state in the nation to recognize a statewide Responsible Gaming Education Month in 2003? To celebrate the Show-Me State’s 10th anniversary, the Missouri Alliance to Curb Problem Gambling kicked off the series of month-long responsible gaming activities by proclaiming August as Responsible Gaming Education Month. Additionally, the Missouri Lottery, in conjunction with the Alliance, officially launched a new Lottery Self-Exclusion Program (SEP) on Aug. 1.
Missouri Lottery Executive Director May Scheve Reardon explained that the program was developed to help problem gamblers reduce the incentive to play.
“As a gaming provider in Missouri, we have an obligation to our players to operate in a socially responsible manner,” Reardon began. “Our hope is that those with a gambling problem will sign up for the voluntary program, which self-excludes that player for life from claiming prizes of $600 or more and denies that player access to the My Lottery® Players Club.”
According to 2010 Missouri Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) survey results, out of the 40.41 percent of individuals who reported gambling in Missouri, only 0.4 percent said gambling led to financial problems, and 0.2 percent noted gambling led to problems with family, work or personal life.
“Even though the survey indicates that the number of problem gamblers in Missouri is low, we want to do our part to deter those struggling with an addiction from playing our games,” Reardon continued.
The Missouri Lottery is the fourth United States lottery to launch a self-exclusion program. The Missouri Lottery’s program was modeled after the Illinois, Iowa and Maryland lotteries, all of which offer players the option of self-excluding from claiming a prize of a certain amount.
“The reason there is a prize threshold on how much a self-excluded player can win is because winners of $600 or more are required to claim prizes at one of the Missouri Lottery’s four regional offices,” Reardon explained, noting that after a player signs up for SEP, they will be added to a database flagging that player as ineligible to claim a prize above $600. “We have approximately 5,000 retailers across the state, so enforcing a program at each retail location is not possible.”
Reardon concluded that more information about the Lottery’s self-exclusion program can be found online at MOLottery.com.
Another primary focus this month is on the free help available to all Missourians. To spread the word about the toll-free problem gambling help line, 1-888-BETSOFF (1-888-238-7633), the Alliance teamed up with the Missouri Broadcasters Association to run a series of problem gambling public service announcements (PSAs) on television and radio.
“Featuring PSAs in the media will help get the important message out to not only problem gamblers, but also to their family and loved ones, that free assistance is available,” Reardon stated. “The help line directs callers to free treatment in their county.”
Reardon said that a new Alliance-sponsored awareness campaign also will be launched later this month, complete with new billboards, posters and brochures.
“The new campaign merges two important concepts – hope and taking action,” she added.
The Missouri Alliance to Curb Problem Gambling, which was created in 1997, is a partnership between the Missouri Lottery, the Missouri Gaming Association, the Missouri Gaming Commission, the Missouri Council on Problem Gambling Concerns, Inc., the Missouri Department of Mental Health’s Division of Alcohol and Drug Abuse, 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 loved ones to free treatment, to prevent underage play and to promote responsible gaming.