National Problem Gambling Awareness Week: Help for addicted Pennsylvanians

Several state agencies are working together to highlight "National Problem Gambling Awareness Week," March 7-13, and to ensure Pennsylvanians with a gambling addiction know that help is available.

The state departments of Health, Revenue, and Agriculture -- along with the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board -- offer information on counseling and treatment services.

"Most people are able to gamble without harmful consequences," said Health Secretary Everette James. "But for anyone who develops a problem, it is important for them to be aware of the resources that can help them to overcome it."

The Department of Health has approved 57 problem gambling treatment providers across the state to provide counseling services to those in need. Assistance is also available by calling the department's 24-hour Gambling Addiction hotline at 1-877-565-2112. The free call is confidential and anonymous.

The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board, or PGCB, oversees Pennsylvania's gaming industry which was designed to produce tremendous economic benefits for Pennsylvanians. However, for some, gambling can cause serious problems.

"Most adults who participate in legalized gaming in Pennsylvania do not have a problem. However, research shows that roughly one to three percent of Americans will develop a gambling problem sometime in life and, unfortunately, only 10 percent of those persons seek treatment," said Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board Chairman Greg Fajt. "National Problem Gambling Awareness Week not only heightens awareness of the issue, but lets affected persons know of ways to identify a problem and treatment options." 

This year, in addition to creating a new informational handout on female gamblers, the PGCB has adapted a public service announcement, developed by the National Council on Problem Gambling, to provide the toll-free helpline number operated by the Council on Compulsive Gambling of Pennsylvania.

The Pennsylvania Lottery, administered by the Department of Revenue, is committed to promoting responsible gaming.

"Since 1971, the Pennsylvania Lottery has committed its revenue to vital programs and services for older Pennsylvanians through the responsible sale and marketing of its products," said Ed Trees, the Lottery's executive director. "We encourage players to have fun playing Lottery games with discretionary dollars, but remind players always to play responsibly."

In partnership with the Pennsylvania Council on Compulsive Gambling, the Lottery also sponsors a toll-free gambling hotline, 1-800-848-1880. It is featured on the back of instant tickets, during live televised drawings and on the Lottery's Web site at www.palottery.com.

The Pennsylvania Racing Commissions are committed to keeping pari-mutuel gaming a pleasurable activity. All six racetracks in the state have instituted policies that promote safe, responsible wagering and are reviewed by the commissions' licensing and enforcement divisions to protect Pennsylvania citizens, according to Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding.

"We invite Pennsylvanians to enjoy the excitement of live thoroughbred and standardbred racing at any of our six racetracks," said Secretary Redding. "Visitors to the tracks are encouraged to wager responsibly." 

Problem gambling is defined as an urge to gamble despite harmful negative consequences or gambling despite an urge to stop.

SOURCE Pennsylvania Department of Health

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