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Problem Gambling Week Heightens Awareness

The release of public service announcements (PSAs) to promote Missouri's problem-gambling help line, 1-888-BETSOFF (1-888-238-7633), and participation in awareness events will highlight Missouriís efforts in the fifth annual National Problem Gambling Awareness Week, March 5-11.

The radio and television PSAs are being provided by the Missouri Alliance to Curb Problem Gambling (Alliance), which is comprised by the Missouri Division of Alcohol and Drug Abuse, the Missouri Lottery, the Missouri Gaming Commission, the Missouri Council on Problem Gambling Inc., the Missouri Gaming Association and the Port Authority of Kansas City.

"During the national awareness week, communities nationwide are working to raise awareness of the consequences of problem gambling and the resources available for individuals whose gambling is causing disruption in their lives.

In Missouri, in addition to releasing the PSAs, members of the Missouri Alliance will be providing educational displays at various statewide conferences throughout the month including the Partners in Prevention Meeting of the Minds Conference for college students, faculty and administrators and the Pathways to Student Success conference for school administrators and educators of at-risk students.

"National Problem Gambling Awareness Week is an effort to raise awareness of problem-gambling issues and the availability of treatment throughout the country," said Keith Spare, chairman of the Alliance and president of the Missouri Council on Problem Gambling Concerns Inc.

"Throughout the year, the Alliance promotes the availability of free treatment, but participating in the national effort this week provides us with an opportunity to further educate Missouri residents about problem-gambling issues and that help is just a phone call away," he said.

Free problem gambling treatment for disordered gambling is available in Missouri to problem gamblers and their loved ones. Information about treatment options in Missouri is available through the 24-hour toll-free problem gambling help line, 1-888-BETSOFF.

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Compulsive gambling is a behavior disorder in which an individual has an uncontrollable preoccupation and urge to gamble. This results in excessive gambling, the outcome of which is loss of time and money.

The gambling reaches the point at which it compromises, disrupts or destroys the gambler's personal life, family relationships or vocational pursuits. The key signs are emotional dependence on gambling, loss of control and interference with normal functioning.