Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Department of Health Reaches Out to Problem Gamblers

The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board along with the Department of Health, Revenue and Agriculture is sponsoring “Problem Gambling Awareness Week” which aims to reach out to individuals who may not realize they have a gambling problem.

The board wants people to understand that while the public should enjoy the state’s casinos and lottery games, it can be a slippery slope for many gamblers. They believe the worst part for many gamblers is that they don’t realize they have a problem and therefore, don’t seek help, often at the cost of relationships, finances, and personal anguish.

In January the board launched a statewide campaign for a help website and the state's gambling addiction hotline takes calls 24 hours a day according to the Department of Health.

Robin Rothermel, director of the Health Department’s Bureau of Drug and Alcohol Programs, says the counseling service has a financial aspect.

“The majority of these individuals by the time they’re seeking service have destroyed themselves financially,” Rothermel says. “We do a lot of work with credit counselors and financial planning and those types of things to individuals back on their feet as well.”

The department of health has joined in the cause to raise awareness of problem gambling because gambling can be as much of a health issue as excessive drinking or smoking.

“Individuals who smoke gamble at a significantly higher rate than those who don’t. Individuals who are chronic users of alcohol gamble at a significantly higher rate than those who don’t,” Rothermel says. “We know that the public health issues are all intertwined so that why we feel it’s addressed by the health department.”

For those seeking help, the department of health encourages people to call the 24-hour hotline at 1-877-565-2112 or by accessing the new website www.paproblemgambling.com.

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