2015-03-04 09:07:51.137

'Have the Conversation' About Problem Gambling


This month, members of the Missouri Alliance to Curb Problem Gambling, in conjunction with the National Council on Problem Gambling (NCPG), are honoring the second annual National Problem Gambling Awareness Month by focusing their efforts to spotlight the issue of problem gambling. The goal of the month-long awareness campaign is to educate the public about the warning signs of problem gambling and promote the availability of help offered in Missouri.

“We want to encourage everyone to ‘Have the Conversation,’” said Mike Winter, chairperson of the Missouri Alliance and executive director of the Missouri Gaming Association. “Often times, loved ones are the first to realize that a problem might be developing. We want all Missourians to be aware of the free help that is available.”

According to NCPG, gambling addiction affects 6 to 9 million Americans, or 2 to 3 percent of the population. Anyone who gambles can develop problems if they are not aware of the risks or warning signs associated with problem gambling.

“The vast majority of those who gamble do so responsibly. However, there are a small number who develop a problem,” said Winter, noting that problem gambling can impact relationships, families, businesses and communities.

The NCPG states that problem gambling is considered a “hidden addiction,” in which there is no physical test that specifies problematic gambling behavior. There are, however, warning signs in which gamblers, players and loved ones should familiarize themselves. These include, but are not limited to:
· Regularly borrowing money to gamble;
· Lying to cover up gambling behavior;
· Trying to win back money lost;
· Gambling to escape problems;
· Being argumentative and defensive about gambling behavior; and
· Going without basic needs in order to gamble.

“If you believe someone you love has a gambling problem, we encourage you to access the help that is available to you,” said May Scheve Reardon, executive director of the Missouri Lottery. “We are continuing the distribution of the current ‘Help is on the Horizon’ campaign to bring awareness to the issue. We have also released a series of problem gambling public service announcements to radio stations across the state.”

If you or someone you know has a gambling problem, the Alliance urges you to “Have the Conversation” and call 1-888-BETSOFF (1-888-238-7633), a free resource that connects those living with gambling problems to free counseling and services.

The Missouri Alliance oversees the BETSOFF program, which features the toll-free help line, an email service, freehelp@888betsoff.org, and a website, 888betsoff.org.

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