March 5th, 2012


Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board
Commonwealth Tower, Strawberry Square
303 Walnut Street, 5th Floor
Harrisburg, PA 17101


Doug Harbach or Richard McGarvey (717) 346-8321

Pennsylvania Observes 'problem Gambling Awareness Week' March 4-10

HARRISBURG: The state departments of Health, Revenue and Agriculture – along with the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board – are working together during "Problem Gambling Awareness Week," March 4-10, to ensure that Pennsylvanians with gambling addiction problems know that help is available.

"The Gaming Control Board urges compulsive gamblers, or even individuals who think that they may have a problem, to educate themselves about how to identify the problem and then seek out professional counseling if needed," said Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board Chairman William H. Ryan, Jr. "We, and the casinos, which must operate with a Board-approved plan to assist problem gamblers, want Pennsylvanians to enjoy legalized gaming without putting their families and budgets at risk."

"The Lottery takes the issue of compulsive gambling very seriously. Lottery’s games are meant to be enjoyed as entertainment, and we encourage people to play responsibly," said Pennsylvania Lottery Executive Director Todd Rucci.  "Problem Gambling Awareness Week provides an important opportunity to raise awareness of the issue and to ensure that the 1 to 3 percent of people who struggle with compulsive gambling know how to find resources and treatment." 

"We invite Pennsylvanians to enjoy the excitement of live thoroughbred and standardbred racing at any of our six racetracks," said Agriculture Secretary George Greig. "When visiting, remember to wager responsibly." 

"A gambling addiction may not be as easy to detect as an alcohol or drug addiction," said Secretary of Health Dr. Eli Avila. "We encourage Pennsylvanians to know their risk for problem gambling, and want to remind them that help is available for those who need it."

The agencies offer information, assistance and referrals to services to increase public awareness about problem gambling behaviors.  The Department of Health has approved 70 problem gambling treatment providers across the state that offers counseling services to those in need. Assistance is also available by calling the department's 24-hour Gambling Addiction hotline at 1-877-565-2112. The free call is confidential and anonymous.  Individuals can also go to for additional information about problem gambling.

According to the Department of Health, more than 16,000 Pennsylvanians called the gambling help line in 2010 for all forms of gambling including: slots, card games, lottery, horse racing, sports and internet gambling.  Callers were nearly evenly split between male and female, and affected all age groups from teens through seniors. Individuals most frequently reported why they called the help line as being: financial, family/marital and mental health issues.

The Gaming Control Board’s Voluntary Self-Exclusion Program has continued to grow into a very effective and proven tool to assist a problem gambler in removing himself or herself from the temptation of gambling at casinos. With more than 3,400 individuals self-excluded from PA casinos, this program is making a real difference in the lives of gamblers and their families.

Individuals who wish to place themselves on the Self-Exclusion List can obtain the request and instructions by visiting the Gaming Control Board website, and choosing the Compulsive and Problem Gambling link located under the Gaming menu.  

Representatives of the PA Gaming Control Board, Department of Health and the Pennsylvania Council on Compulsive Gambling will staff a booth at in the Strawberry Square Atrium in Harrisburg March 5 & 6; set up a similar booth in the State Capitol Mini-Rotunda on March 7; and information will be available at the Council on Compulsive Gambling of Pennsylvania’s Annual Statewide Conference in Pittsburgh on March 7 and in Philadelphia on March 8. The booths will have information and handouts on problem gambling, including 12-step programs, the Self-Exclusion Program and treatment providers.

# # #