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March Declared First-Ever National Problem Gambling Awareness Month

For the first time ever, March has been affirmed as National Problem Gambling Awareness Month by the National Council on Problem Gambling. The Missouri Lottery, in conjunction with the Missouri Alliance to Curb Problem Gambling, is joining the countrywide charge to raise awareness about problem gambling by paying for dedicated television and radio air time in March for Lottery-produced public service announcements. Additionally, the Lottery has also released a series of free problem gambling public service announcements to radio and television stations to play throughout the year at their discretion.

Missouri Lottery Executive Director May Scheve Reardon explained that what used to be a week-long awareness effort ballooned into a month-long NCPG-sponsored campaign encouraging individuals to "Navigate Problem Gambling" by becoming aware of the warning signs and help available both locally and nationally.

"In Missouri, help and information can be obtained in a variety of ways, including, a 24-hour help line, 1-888-BETSOFF (1-888-238-7633); email address (freehelp@888betsoff.org); website (888betsoff.org); and Lottery and casino self-exclusion programs (888betsofforg)," Reardon said.

Reardon added that on behalf of the Alliance, the Lottery is also launching a new awareness campaign this month, "Help is on the Horizon," and it will be featured via billboards, posters and brochures.

NCPG Executive Director Keith Whyte said that after 11 years of sponsoring National Problem Gambling Awareness Week during the first week of March, "it was time to extend that awareness period to an entire month."

"When problem gambling became classified as a behavioral addiction in the Diagnostic Manual, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) from the American Psychiatric Association last year, it was appropriate to lengthen the national awareness period in hopes of reaching more problem gamblers, concerned citizens and healthcare professionals to educate them about the newly classified addiction and available resources," Whyte explained, noting that the classification is significant in the mental health field, because problem gambling was previously categorized as an impulse control disorder since its introduction into the DSM in 1980.

"National Problem Gambling Awareness Month provides an opportune time for healthcare professionals in all fields to utilize simple, free tools to screen for gambling problems which are available at npgam.org," Whyte shared.

To learn more about problem gambling resources available in Missouri, visit 888betsoff.org, and to learn more about national resources, visit Ncpgambling.org.

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

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.

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Created by the Missouri Lottery in cooperation with the Missouri Alliance to Curb Problem Gambling.
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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.