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Alliance Welcomes First Recovery Community Member

Deborah NealThe Missouri Alliance to Curb Problem Gambling recently welcomed Deborah Neal of Kansas City as a participating voting member. Neal's appointment as a recovery community representative, which grants her full voting privileges, is the first of its kind for the Alliance.

According to Michael Winter, chairman for the Alliance and executive director for the Missouri Gaming Association, adding a recovery community representative to the Alliance was a necessary step.

"There was a void on the Board of the Alliance from those who were in recovery," explained Winter. "It was important to have them represented and to hear their perspective. It's my hope that Deborah will help to enlighten all of us on the Alliance about issues individuals in recovery deal with in their lives."

Neal noted that she is grateful for the invitation to join the Alliance.

"I am honored to serve on the Missouri Alliance to Curb Problem Gambling. I look forward to being an instrument of hope and healing for individuals, families and communities affected by problem and compulsive gambling and related potential consequences," said Neal.

Neal, who received a bachelor's degree in journalism from Ohio State University and a law degree from the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Law, has served on various community boards and committees, including serving as president of the Jackson County Bar Association and a member of the Judicial Municipal and Associate Circuit Judges Association Board and Judicial Education Committee.

Steve Rinne, Alliance member and Port Authority of Kansas City Staff, explained that the Alliance chose Neal to represent the recovery community because of her perseverance and commitment to educating the public about problem gambling.

"We chose Deborah because she was a high-profile public official whose gambling problem was well-publicized. She is devoted to becoming involved in the community in an effort to prevent others, especially minorities in the urban core, from suffering the nearly catastrophic loss that she did. We're very thankful to have her as an Alliance member," said Rinne.

The Missouri Alliance to Curb Problem Gambling, which was created in 1997, is a partnership between the Missouri Council on Problem Gambling Concerns Inc., the Missouri Department of Mental Heath's Division of Alcohol & Drug Abuse, the Missouri Gaming Association, the Missouri Gaming Commission, the Missouri Lottery Commission and the Port Authority of Kansas City.

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 family and friends to free treatment through a toll-free help line, to prevent underage play and to promote responsible gaming.

To learn how to become a participating member of the Alliance or more about the Alliance's services, visit 888betsoff.org or call 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.