Problem Gambling Takes the Spotlight in Florida

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While most people enjoy gambling as a recreational activity, there are over 1 million Floridians who have sustained significant financial, social, and emotional devastation at the hands of problem gambling. In support of the Florida Council on Compulsive Gambling (FCCG), Governor Charlie Christ has proclaimed March 1 - 7 Problem Gambling Awareness Week in Florida.

It is essential that we all take part in spreading the word about problem gambling, its impacts, and ways to get help. That's what we are doing with Lights On Problem Gambling.

Tallahassee, FL -- While most people enjoy gambling as a recreational activity, there are over 1 million Floridians who have sustained significant financial, social, and emotional devastation at the hands of problem gambling. In support of the Florida Council on Compulsive Gambling (FCCG), Governor Charlie Christ has proclaimed March 1 - 7 Problem Gambling Awareness Week in Florida.

Lights On Problem Gambling is a movement developed by the FCCG to raise awareness about the effects of pathological (commonly referred to as compulsive) gambling. The objective is to shine the light on that which is referred to as the "hidden disease" to reveal the signs and underlying issues manifesting from a gambling addiction. This year's focus is crime.

"Over one third of problem gamblers who call the 888-ADMIT-IT, 24 hour gambling HelpLine, are involved in illegal activities - mostly out of desperation to pay debt due to gambling and fund future bets," states Pat Fowler, Executive Director of the FCCG. "The impact on crime is significant."

Prevalence studies show that adult problem gamblers are four times more likely to have been arrested as non-problem gamblers. The most common criminal offenses committed by compulsive gamblers are writing bad checks, forgery, fraud, embezzlement, theft, sale of drugs, and burglary.

"Whether directly or indirectly, this issue touches us all," warns Fowler. "It is essential that we all take part in spreading the word about problem gambling, its impacts, and ways to get help. That's what we are doing with Lights On Problem Gambling."

The Governor, Mayors, the gaming industry and other businesses, state and local agencies, and media partners throughout the state are among those standing with the FCCG in this effort to inform the public and assist people who have difficulty with gambling.

"The FCCG is grateful for the support of all of the media and all of our partners in this initiative in dedicating their resources to disseminate the message throughout the entire state," expresses Fowler.

In addition to public service announcements, and a dedicated web site, and statewide distribution of collateral materials, the FCCG will have a mobile billboard display in front of the Historic Capitol in Tallahassee on Monday, March 2nd and Friday, March 6th. The public can participate in the movement by visiting http://www.lightsonproblemgambling.com to educate themselves on the issue, calling the 24-hour (HelpLine 888-ADMIT-IT) on behalf of a friend or family member with a possible gambling problem, and passing along messages to others via email or other social marketing tools such as Facebook and Myspace.

Since 1988, the Florida Council on Compulsive Gambling (FCCG) has been committed to providing services and support to victims of problem gambling, and increasing public awareness. For more information, call 888-ADMIT-IT or visit http://www.lightsonproblemgambling.com.

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