Harrisburg, PA – Today, Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs (DDAP) Secretary Jen Smith was joined virtually by the Pennsylvania Lottery, the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board, and the Council on Compulsive Gambling of Pennsylvania to kick off March as National Problem Gambling Awareness Month.
This year marks the 17th anniversary of National Problem Gambling Awareness Month as recognized by the National Council on Problem Gambling. To commemorate, this year’s theme is Awareness + Action. The goals of the national campaign are to increase public awareness of problem gambling and the availability of treatment and recovery services, and to encourage health care providers to screen clients for problem gambling.
“We come together today to promote awareness of problem gambling and highlight community resources for individuals in need,” said Sec. Smith. “Legalized gambling, especially online, is expanding as Pennsylvanians are home due to COVID-19, so we urge individuals and their loved ones to recognize when a recreational hobby becomes a more serious problem. Understanding that treatment and resources are available can help in having conversations with loved ones in need.”
“In observance of National Problem Gambling Awareness Month, the Pennsylvania Lottery urges players to play within their financial means and only for entertainment. We always remind our players to please play responsibly,” said Pennsylvania Lottery Executive Director Drew Svitko. “While we know most adults can play Lottery games without issue, we do understand that gambling can be problematic for some. Recovery is possible. The first step in recovery comes from recognizing there's a problem and asking for help.”
Pennsylvania provides numerous resources to support individuals suffering from problem gambling, including a Problem Gambling Hotline available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year at 1-800-GAMBLER (1-800-426-2537), and a 24-hour chat services available at www.pacouncil.com. Additionally, the commonwealth offers a Self-Exclusion Program that allows a person to request to be excluded from legalized gaming activities within a casino and offsite venues.
Gambling, even through legal avenues, becomes a problem when individuals begin to develop strained relationships with loved ones, borrow money to gamble, gamble to experience a high or feeling, miss work, school, or other activities and obligations in order to gamble. These behaviors can have a serious impact on a person’s financial, physical, and mental health. Other symptoms of problem gambling include trying to hide or lying about gambling, using gambling as an escape to avoid dealing with others problems, and feeling like the habit is out of control but being unable to stop.
For more information on how to recognize the warning signs of a gambling problem and to find treatment options around Pennsylvania, visit www.ddap.pa.gov or 1-800-GAMBLER.
MEDIA CONTACT: Rachel Kostelac - DDAP, 717-547-3314
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