March is Problem Gambling Awareness Month on the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board‘s calendar, a time to heighten awareness of the resources available to help individuals with a gambling problem.
Representatives of the PGCB’s Office of Compulsive and Problem Gambling will participate in a virtual kickoff on Monday.
The National Council on Problem Gambling operates the National Problem Gambling Helpline Network (1-800-522-4700). The network is a single national access point to local resources for those seeking help for a gambling problem. The network consists of 28 call centers which provide resources and referrals for all 50 states, Canada and the US. In Pennsylvania, help is provided by experts at the Pennsylvania Compulsive Gambling Helpline or 1-800-GAMBLER (1-800-426-2537). Players can also reach out via the website Council on Compulsive Gambling of Pennsylvania, where they can access the helpline by phone, text or chat.When players call the Pennsylvania Problem Gambling Helpline, they are referred to professionals who can provide.
Pa Gambling Bill
Throughout the month, the PGCB will join with partners to educate Pennsylvanians about the effects of gambling disorders.
Spotlight on problem gambling tools
The gaming board is spotlighting tools that help to identify gambling addiction.
Also, focusing on services aimed at minimizing the consequences of problem gambling.
The director of the PGCB’s Office of Compulsive and Problem Gambling, Elizabeth Lanza, stressed that gambling addiction is an issue that could be more problematic in light of the virus pandemic.
“The goal of Problem Gambling Awareness Month is to spotlight the issues and educate the general public about the warning signs of problem gambling, as well as raise awareness about treatment and other programs that are available both locally and nationally.”
The PGCB Executive Director, Kevin O’Toole, said the oversight board and the industry both recognize the importance of gambling addiction programs. And the goal is to help individuals and provide education, outreach, and prevention options.
And also problem gambling resources
The board works with both state and national problem gambling organizations and PA gaming license holders to ensure its ability to provide useful methods and resources to deal with gambling addiction.
O’Toole said the PGCB has expanded and enhanced the tools for addressing gambling addiction as new forms of gambling are added.
Self-Exclusion Program a key tool
The PA Self-Exclusion program now allows individuals to ban themselves from iGaming, FantasyContests, and Video Gaming Terminals, or VGTs.
The program has aided thousands in staying out of Pennsylvania casinos. To date, over 16,000 persons have taken advantage of the program to self-ban from casinos. The bans run for one year, five years, or a lifetime.
Additional responsible gambling tools include:
- www.ResponsiblePlay.pa.gov, a new website dedicated to addressing problem gambling, with information and links to identify a potential gambling problem and find help.
- The PlayPause program from GeoComply and Conscious Gaming allows individuals to self-exclude from online casino sites across state lines. This important RG tool debuted in PA at BetMGM in late December 2020.
- Options for participants to limit online play or their spending at operator websites. That includes fantasy contests, online casino games, online poker, and/or online sports betting.
Lanza summed up:
“The public needs to know that problem gambling tools are out there. And also that gambling addiction treatment is not only available but has proven to be effective.”
Lead image via Dreamstime.
The explosive growth and acceptance of online gambling in the U.S. introduced countless new customers to casino games and sports betting.
But as these (largely) inexperienced iGaming players begin to explore options, the line between regulated and illegal sites can be a bit blurry.
As such, Conscious Gaming, the non-profit arm of GeoComply, has launched Bettor Safe. The national campaign aims to promote responsible gambling and educate players about the risks of betting with unregulated operators.
Today, @ConsciousGam is thrilled to announce the launch of Bettor Safe, a campaign to help educate consumers about safe, legal and regulated online betting. Visit https://t.co/PasST6TnYB to learn more. Slot machine hack app. pic.twitter.com/mKETRPX7DW
— Conscious Gaming (@ConsciousGam) March 3, 2021
Bettor Safe focused on NJ and PA
Wednesday’s roll-out of Bettor Safe includes two state-specific sites for New Jersey and Pennsylvania players.
Seth Palansky, VP of corporate social responsibility & communications for Conscious Gaming, said Bettor Safe underscores a “commitment to consumer protection and safety by directly educating individuals about the risks of unregulated online betting.”
“This campaign comes at a pivotal moment when American sports fans are gearing up for the NCAA basketball tournament amid a pandemic that continues to push individuals online,” said Palansky. “Now more than ever we must educate consumers and equip them with the tools to make more informed decisions about online betting.”
Bettor Safe provides players information about where online gambling is legal and which sites are regulated. The campaign also provides local and national resources for responsible gambling.
The campaign includes a short informational video specific to the Garden State market.
Online gambling confusion
Currently, 15 states and Washington D.C. permit some form of legal online gambling.
While sports betting will be in the spotlight this month thanks to March Madness, several jurisdictions also offer online casinos and poker.
A recent survey published by the American Gaming Association found a bit of confusion about online betting. According to the AGA, 35% of individuals are unaware if online betting is legal in their states.
And many more are wagering on unregulated sites.
“The regulator community sees, firsthand, the risks that illegal gambling presents to consumers and state governments. We cannot cede the established rules and safeguards of regulated internet gaming to offshore websites that have zero accountability,” said the North American Gaming Regulators Association in a statement in support of Bettor Safe.
More online gambling education needed in NJ and PA
A recent survey of NJ and PA adults on their habits and attitudes towards online betting. And it revealed some gaps in public awareness:
- More than 25% of those polled in NJ and more than 30% in PA are unaware if online betting is legal in their state or responded that it was not legal.
- About 75% of New Jersey and Pennsylvania residents could not or are not sure if they could differentiate a legal betting site from an illegal website.
- Among those surveyed who currently bet online, respondents (42% in both states) overwhelmingly cite “safety and security” as most important to them.
Conscious Gaming conducted the survey on behalf of the Bettor Safe campaign.
Problem Gambling Awareness in the U.S.
March also happens to be nationally recognized as Problem Gambling Awareness Month.
In New Jersey, the governor, state gaming regulators, and the Council on Compulsive Gambling of NJ formally acknowledge March as PGA Month annually.
“Problem Gambling: Have the Conversation” is the theme of this year’s campaign.
Gambling disorder has been classified by the American Psychiatric Association since 2013 as an addiction.
Pa Gambling Laws
A little more on GeoComply, Conscious Gaming
GeoComply is a geolocation compliance company used by several online operators and gaming jurisdictions (including NJ). It ensures players are within legal boundaries to place a wager.
Conscious Gaming is the independent non-profit entity created by GeoComply to use technology to “propel social responsibility initiatives,” according to a company news release.
Pa Problem Gambling Website
Bettor Safe is the latest effort from Conscious Gaming to aid consumers and promote responsible gaming. In September 2020, Conscious Gaming rolled out PlayPause. It is a fairly new responsible gaming and sports integrity tool to help the gaming industry manage self-exclusion and impermissible bettor programs.