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Building awareness of the toll-free problem gambling help line - 1-888-BETSOFF - has always been a primary goal of the Alliance. Alliance members use various methods to build this awareness - billboards, speakers' bureau, public service announcements and the backs of casino cards and lottery tickets - but some of the most noticeable ways are through the Alliance's posters and brochures.

"Our initial goal was to create awareness of the help line, and that is what our first campaign focused on," said Gary Gonder, director of communications for the Missouri Lottery. "The first campaign highlighted the phone number as the number always on the side of the problem gambler.

"I think the campaign has been very successful," he continued. "The number of calls to the help line have increased every year since we kicked off the awareness campaign, and when we go to conferences or even to schools, people ask if we're the 'betsoff people.'"

Gonder said the Alliance always will continue to focus on increasing awareness of the help line, but the Missouri Lottery is updating the collateral materials to appeal to the friends and family members of problem gamblers. The older adult campaign introduced in August 2001 was the first step in the campaign update.

"On average, about 28 percent of the callers to the help line are third-party callers or people who are calling about a loved one," Gonder said. "We believe that these people usually have a stronger influence on a problem gambler than we do, so we're hoping through this new campaign that they will learn where to tell problem gamblers to find help and also to find help for themselves."

Gonder said Missouri residents who are family members of problem gamblers are eligible to receive free counseling treatment, but many are unaware of this service.

Two new campaigns was kicked off in August 2002 - a general awareness campaign and a campaign aimed at youth. Both campaigns will be aimed at friends or family of problem gamblers.

To order copies of the new posters and brochures, send your request to betsoff@molottery.com or call (573) 526-7467.

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Created by the Missouri Lottery in cooperation with the Missouri Alliance to Curb Problem Gambling.
Comments or questions about this Web site can be directed to betsoff@molottery.com


Help Is Available
If you feel you or someone you know has a gambling problem, call
(1-888-238-7633). email - freehelp@888betsoff.org

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.

You can also reach the Help Line counselors via email; emails will be answered within 15 hours.

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.