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Problem Gambling Week Heightens Awareness

Public service announcements (PSAs) to promote Missouri's problem-gambling help line, 1-888-BETSOFF (1-888-238-7633), are scheduled to begin during the fourth annual National Problem Gambling Awareness Week, March 6-12. In addition to the PSAs, members of the Missouri Alliance to Curb Problem Gambling will be participating in a variety of activities to raise awareness of the dangers of problem gambling and the availability and benefits of problem-gambling treatment.

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

"Awareness of the help line is essential in helping problem gamblers and their family members find the assistance they need," said Michael Couty, director of ADA. "Missouri is fortunate to have a network of certified compulsive gambling counselors. The first step toward getting help is to call the help line."

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, members of the Missouri Alliance will be providing educational displays at the Pathways to Student Success conference for school administrators and educators of at-risk students on March 5-7 in Osage Beach and on March 9-10 at the Missouri Corrections Association conference in Lake Ozark.

“National Problem Gambling Awareness Week is an effort to raise awareness of problem-gambling issues and the availability of treatment throughout the country,” said Joanne Collins, chairman of the Alliance and a member of the Port Authority of Kansas City's Board of Commissioners.

“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,” she said.

Free problem gambling treatment for disordered gambling is available in Missouri to problem gamblers and the loved ones of problem gamblers. Information about treatment options in Missouri is available through the 24-hour toll-free problem gambling help line, 1-888-BETSOFF, or visit the Alliance’s Web site at www.888betsoff.org.

Help Is Available
If you feel you or someone you know has a gambling problem, call

Your toll-free call to 1-888-BETSOFF can put you in touch with people who understand your situation and can refer you to free treatment in your area.

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.