March 1st, 2013


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 3-9

HARRISBURG - The state departments of Drug and Alcohol Programs, Revenue and Agriculture – along with the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board – are working together during "Problem Gambling Awareness Week," March 3-9, to ensure that Pennsylvanians with gambling addiction problems know that help is available.

"The Gaming Control Board urges individuals who think they may have a gambling problem and family members and friends of those individuals to educate themselves on the signs and symptoms of problem gambling," said Board Chairman William H. Ryan, Jr.  "The goal of Problem Gambling Awareness Week is to educate the general public about the warning signs of problem gambling as well as raise awareness about the many programs available for problem gamblers in Pennsylvania." 

"The Pennsylvania Lottery recognizes problem gambling can have serious consequences, which is why we always urge our players to play responsibly," said Lottery Executive Director Todd Rucci. "We also fund and promote the Pennsylvania Compulsive Gambling hotline, 1-800-848-1880, as part of our important social responsibility mission. The bottom line: if you or someone you know has a problem with compulsive gambling, we want you to get help."  

 "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." 

"Gambling addiction has been a growing problem across Pennsylvania, and many individuals are not aware of the risks it can create," said Secretary of Drug and Alcohol Programs Gary Tennis. "We encourage Pennsylvanians to know their risk for developing a gambling problem, and to know that help is available for those who need it."

Together these agencies offer information, assistance and referrals to services to increase public awareness about problem gambling behaviors.  The Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs has approved 80 problem gambling treatment providers across the state that offer counseling services to those in need. Training and case consultation is also provided free of charge to clinicians seeking to enhance their skills in the treatment of problem gambling. 

According to the Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs, more than 16,000 Pennsylvanians called the gambling help line in 2012 for all forms of gambling including: slots, card games, lottery, horse racing, sports and internet gambling.  Callers included men and women of all age groups from teens through seniors. Similar to prior years, individuals most frequently reported why they called the help line as being: financial, family/marital and mental health issues. The most common form of gambling was slots (44 percent), which is known as the most highly addictive form of gambling. This was followed by lottery (10 percent) and blackjack (10 percent). 

As part of the Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs’ problem gambling prevention and outreach efforts, a comprehensive campaign is currently underway across the state.  The campaign, running from December of 2012 through April of this year and funded through a portion of casino revenues, includes TV and radio commercials, print, online and outdoor advertising and a variety of other tactics. The campaign aims to help frequent gamblers identify and detect the warning signs of problem gambling and promote the state’s problem gambling hotline, 1-877-565-2112 and the resources available to struggling individuals and their families at

As it continues to grow, the Gaming Control Board’s Voluntary Self-Exclusion Program has proven to be an effective tool to assist a problem gambler in removing himself or herself from the temptation of gambling at casinos.  With more than 4,900 individuals who have 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 Quick Links menu.  

Representatives of the PA Gaming Control Board and Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs will staff a booth at in the Strawberry Square Atrium in Harrisburg March 4 and 7; set up a similar booth in the State Capitol Mini-Rotunda on March 5; and information will be available at the Council on Compulsive Gambling of Pennsylvania’s Annual Statewide Conference in Philadelphia on March 6 and in Pittsburgh on March 7. The booths will have information and handouts on problem gambling, including 12-step programs, the Self-Exclusion Program and treatment providers.

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