Pennsylvania Kicks Off National Problem Gambling Awareness Month: Every Story Matters

Deputy Secretary Kelly Primus, DDAP speaks to the press.Credit: Commonwealth Media Services

HARRISBURG, PA — Pennsylvania is drawing attention to the pressing issue of problem gambling, as they kick off the National Problem Gambling Awareness Month this March. The yearly initiative, which is celebrating its 21st anniversary, is centered around the theme “Every Story Matters.” Officials and experts are joining forces to educate the public about the availability of treatment and recovery services, and stressing the importance of early detection of problem gambling by healthcare providers.

Various organizations, including the Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs (DDAP), the Pennsylvania Lottery, the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB), and the Council on Compulsive Gambling of Pennsylvania (CCGP) have teamed up to tackle the issue. Their shared message is simple – problematic gambling can be treated, and resources are readily available.

“Knowledge is power. I encourage all Pennsylvanians to learn about the signs of problem gambling and to use that knowledge to help spread the message that treatment and resources are available,” says Kelly Primus, DDAP Deputy Secretary. Indeed, just as with substance use disorders, recovery from problem gambling is possible – and even probable – with the right treatment and support.

Josh Ercole, Executive Director of the Council on Compulsive Gambling of Pennsylvania, adds, “Being aware of possible warning signs and knowing where to turn for assistance is so important. In Pennsylvania, help is just a call away.”

Supported by DDAP and PGCB, Penn State University conducts an annual assessment of the impacts of online gambling, or iGaming. Last year’s report revealed that 16% of adult Pennsylvanians engaged in some form of online gambling, with sports betting emerging as the most popular. It also found that individuals who gamble both online and offline tend to gamble more and exhibit more problem gambling behaviors than those who gamble exclusively online or offline.

READ:  Bucks County Celebrates a Million-Dollar Mega Millions® Win!

Gambling becomes problematic when it interferes with an individual’s relationships, finances, and commitments. Other warning signs include lying about gambling, using gambling to escape other problems, feeling out of control, and inability to stop.

With the advent of online gambling and sports wagering, gambling disorder has become more prevalent, says Elizabeth Lanza, Director of Compulsive and Problem Gambling for the PGCB. To counter this, the PGCB has introduced a Self-Exclusion Program, giving individuals the option to voluntarily exclude themselves from gambling and set their own time or spending limits.

Drew Svitko, Pennsylvania Lottery Executive Director, emphasizes that gambling should be just for fun and a source of entertainment, and resources are available across Pennsylvania for those struggling with gambling-related issues.

Anyone needing help can call Pennsylvania’s helpline at 1-800-GAMBLER, which operates 24/7. An online chat option is also available for those who prefer texting over speaking to a helpline operator.

Throughout the month of March, a series of events will be held to provide information on problem gambling resources. On March 18 and 27, individuals can visit the East Wing Rotunda of the Capitol and the Olmstead Building on the Penn State Harrisburg campus, respectively, to get the help they need.

Indeed, every story matters when it comes to problem gambling. By raising awareness and promoting accessible treatment and recovery options, Pennsylvania is taking a stand against this under-discussed issue.

For the latest news on everything happening in Chester County and the surrounding area, be sure to follow MyChesCo on Google News and Microsoft Start.