Several Pennsylvania organizations to participate in Problem Gambling Awareness Month

Megan Tomasic, The Tribune-Review, Greensburg
·2 min read

Feb. 28—The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board is working in conjunction with other state entities to promote Problem Gambling Awareness Month in March.

Throughout the month, the gaming control board's Office of Compulsive and Problem Gambling will join the state Department of Drug and Alcohol, the Pennsylvania Lottery, the Council on Compulsive Gambling of Pennsylvania and more to educate Pennsylvanians about gambling disorders while providing outreach and prevention options.

"The goal of Problem Gambling Awareness Month is to spotlight the issues and educate the general public about the warning signs of problem gambling, as well as raise awareness about treatment and other programs that are available both locally and nationally," said Elizabeth Lanza, director of the PGCB's Office of Compulsive and Problem Gambling.

According to a 2015 report from the National Council on Problem Gambling, more than 5 million adults in the United States are estimated to be experiencing gambling related problems. But because gambling addiction often goes unrecognized, only 8% of people will seek treatment.

Those numbers could only increase as different forms of gambling are legalized, according to the Council on Compulsive Gambling of Pennsylvania.

Several options are available to those struggling with gambling addiction, including the self-exclusion program. The program allows people to ban themselves from internet gambling (iGaming), fantasy contests and video gaming terminals. If people who sign up for the program do not comply, they could face penalties.

So far, more than 16,000 people have signed up for the program, in which they can self-ban from casinos for one year, five years or a lifetime.

In addition, options also are available to limit play or spending in fantasy contests, online casino games, online poker and online sports betting.

Anyone wanting help identifying a potential gambling problem, or who wants to sign up for self-exclusion programs, can visit ResponsiblePlay.pa.gov.

"It is important for the PGCB to raise awareness on the effects of gambling addiction and showcase what resources are available to help the citizens of Pennsylvania," Lanza said. "The public needs to know that problem gambling tools are out there, and that gambling addiction treatment is not only available but has proven to be effective."

A virtual event hosted by the National Council on Problem Gambling will kick off Problem Gambling Awareness Month. The webinar begins at 11 a.m. Monday. Registration can be found here.

Those struggling with gambling addition can call the National Problem Gambling help line at 800-522-4700. A help line through the Council on Compulsive Gambling of Pennsylvania can be reached at 800-848-1880. Additional resources can be found at National Council on Problem Gambling.

Megan Tomasic is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Megan at 724-850-1203, mtomasic@triblive.com or via Twitter .