Kansas Coalition on Problem Gambling Launches Problem Gambling Awareness Month on March 1

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Timing Coincides with "March Madness" Basketball Drawing Attention to Gambling Risks; Governor Brownback Signs Proclamation Declaring March 2016 as Problem Gambling Awareness Month

Members of the Kansas Coalition for Problem Gambling watch as Governor Sam Brownback signs a Proclamation commemorating Problem Gambling Awareness Month.

Members of the Kansas Coalition for Problem Gambling watch as Governor Sam Brownback signs a Proclamation commemorating Problem Gambling Awareness Month.

To help raise awareness of the issue throughout the state, Governor Sam Brownback signed a proclamation declaring March 2016 as Problem Gambling Awareness Month in Kansas.

This week marks the start of March Madness, a pivotal point in the NCAA college basketball season when final regular season games and conference tournaments seal the fate of teams vying for a coveted NCAA tournament bid.

This week is also the beginning of Problem Gambling Awareness Month, an annual event aimed at raising awareness of the risks associated with gambling activities. The American Gaming Association estimates that $9 billion was wagered on last year’s NCAA tournament, and as gambling opportunities increase with the advent of daily fantasy sports, smart phone apps and online gaming sites, that figure is expected to rise as well.

The Kansas Coalition on Problem Gambling (KCPG), an organization dedicated to solving the social issues of problem gambling, recognizes that while most Kansans who gamble do so without experiencing harm, a sizeable portion is negatively impacted by gambling. A 2012 study by the Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services found that 75 percent of Kansans had gambled in the past year, with nine percent of those individuals indicating behaviors highly predictive for developing a gambling problem.

“As gambling opportunities rise in response to events like the NCAA tournament, it is important for us to educate the public about ways problem gambling can impact an individual’s relationships, career and finances as well as their physical, mental and emotional health,” said Joyce Markham, licensed specialist clinical social worker and president of KCPG. “These consequences are not limited to only the gambler. One in every seven Kansans reports being negatively affected by the uncontrolled gambling of a family member, friend or co-worker.”

To help raise awareness of the issue throughout the state, Governor Sam Brownback signed a proclamation declaring March 2016 as Problem Gambling Awareness Month in Kansas. In the proclamation, Governor Brownback encourages all citizens to help spread the message that there is help for problem gamblers through treatment, and to support those who are in treatment and recovery and their families.

Organizations throughout Kansas are using Problem Gambling Awareness Month to shed light on the signs of a gambling problem and spread the word about treatment opportunities. KCPG will host a Fantasy Sports Gambling Workshop on March 24 in Topeka featuring Jerry Bauerkemper, National Council on Problem Gambling Board of Directors, who will discuss the impact of fantasy sports on the gambling industry and potential implications of these new betting opportunities. The Northeast Kansas Problem Gambling Task Force will educate concerned citizens about the effects of problem gambling on friends, family and the community as well as resources available for help at their Community Open House Event on March 5 in Overland Park.

In addition to raising awareness in March, task forces are helping Kansans understand the differences between responsible and program gambling throughout the year. Resolved to be Involved, an event recently co-hosted by the South Central Kansas Problem Gambling Task Force and Friends University, encouraged participants to create New Year’s resolutions centered on getting involved with community organizations and affecting positive change. The Southwest Kansas Problem Gambling Task Force launched a new website, swks-problemgambling.org, with resources for problem gamblers and concerned others along with ways to collaborate with their organization.

While efforts to prevent gambling from becoming a problem are important, these organizations hope Problem Gambling Awareness Month activities will also spread the message to those suffering from gambling addiction that help is as near as a phone or computer. Calling the 24/7 Kansas Problem Gambling Helpline at 800.522.4700 will connect individuals with counselors trained to recognize gambling risks and direct callers to certified counselors near them. Those seeking help for gambling problems can also visit the Kansas Responsible Gambling Alliance Website at ksgamblinghelp.com for information about treatment options and support programs.

“The most important point for problem gamblers and concerned others to understand is that treatment is available, effective and affordable,” said Markham. “By calling the confidential helpline, individuals can find treatment in Kansas available at no cost to problem gamblers, family members and others affected by the problem. The first step to turning things around is making the call.”

For more information about problem gambling activities happening in your area, contact:

  • Juan Baez, Behavioral Health Services Commission, Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services, 620.227.8508 ext 249
  • Joyce Markham, Kansas Coalition on Problem Gambling, 785.273.7292
  • Kevin Bost, Northeast Kansas Problem Gambling Task Force, 913.991.6306
  • Stephanie Roberts, South Central Kansas Problem Gambling Task Force, 316.721.0971
  • Debbie Snapp, Southwest Kansas Problem Gambling Task Force, 620.227.1588

The difference between gambling and having a gambling problem is worth knowing. Know Your Limits.

About Kansas Coalition on Problem Gambling
The Kansas Coalition on Problem Gambling (KCPG) is an organization of mental health professionals, treatment and prevention providers, casino representatives and concerned citizens who are dedicated to solving the social issues of problem gambling. KCPG is committed to increasing public awareness; providing research, prevention and education programs regarding problem gambling; and ensuring the availability of treatment for problem gamblers and their families. KCPG provides objective information to educate legislators and other business leaders about prevention and treatment for problem gamblers and their families. KCPG is neither for, nor against, legalized gambling but concentrates on efforts to help those with gambling problems.

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