March is Problem Gambling Awareness Month.
This year marks the 18th anniversary of the nationwide grassroots problem gambling outreach effort.
The Wolf administration is taking action against gambling disorder by raising awareness of recovery services.
According to a recent report by the state, approximately 1 in 10 Pennsylvanians engage in interactive gaming and nearly half of them exhibit at least one problem gambling behavior. Sports betting and online gambling represent the most problematic type of gambling people participate in.
“It’s been a very trying couple of years and, during that time, we’ve seen a lot of new types of gambling become available in Pennsylvania. There’s been rapid expansion and it’s been pretty massive,” Council on Compulsive Gambling of Pennsylvania Executive Director Josh Ercole said during a press conference Tuesday. “Along with that new availability, we’ve also seen a lot of participation and, unfortunately, we’ve also seen new problems develop.”
Officials say most who gamble won’t experience problems, but some will. It’s estimated that 2-4% of the population will develop a gambling disorder of some sort in their lives.
“Over the course of the past year, the total calls, chats and texts for help in 2021 nearly doubled when compared to those in 2020 and 2019,” Council on Compulsive Gambling of Pennsylvania Executive Director Josh Ercole said during a press conference Tuesday. “And what we’ve seen really significantly shift over the course of the past year is the age of folks who are calling, much younger than anything we’ve ever seen in the past.”
More information on how to identify gambling addiction can be found at ResponsiblePlay.pa.gov.
If you or someone you love needs help, call 1-800-GAMBLER (1-800-426-2537). The helpline is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year to connect callers with services in their community. A live chat option is also available online or via text message at 1-800-522-4700.
“I encourage all Pennsylvania residents to learn about the signs of problem gambling and help spread the message that treatment and resources are available, and recovery is possible,” said Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs Secretary Jen Smith. “By educating one another on these signs, you may be able to help a loved one or a friend get the help they need before their gambling turns into a more serious problem and negatively impacts their health or wellbeing.”