Orlando, FL (PRWEB) April 05, 2013
The Florida Council on Compulsive Gambling (FCCG) today celebrated its 25th Anniversary at a gala at the DoubleTree Hilton Orlando at SeaWorld, with over 100 attendees participating in the organization’s two day conference with field professionals, researchers, educators, recovering persons, policymakers, prevention specialists, and others, from within the state and across the country.
“This forum is a celebration and testament that, in the words of Samuel Johnson, ‘Great works are performed, not by strength, but by perseverance.’ Perseverance is what this process entailed and I am proud to report that we all bear the fruit these efforts have reaped over the past 25 years. Bob Wagner, (Co-Founder) would have been proud to know that what we started in 1988 is today Florida’s advocate for problem and compulsive gambling, as well as a national leader in prevention and education programming,” explained Paul Ashe, President and Co-Founder.
“A good portion of the day today was dedicated to understanding the similarities, differences and relationships between alcohol, substance abuse, and problem gambling. Simply speaking, compulsive gambling is today where alcoholism was 40 years ago. Presently, the public has been exposed to increased awareness about gambling problems as they relate to individual and family impacts, and the relationship with crime, suicide and other issues. Yet, we still haven’t reached a point where we are on the same playing field as drugs and other substance abuse prevention, education and treatment programming. But, again, we’re getting there – little by little. And, today we actually have free treatment, gambling-specific, within the state of Florida, due to the Council’s persistent efforts to prevail in this area over the years,” Ashe added.
“The FCCG’s treatment efforts are largely due to the commitment and dedication of one individual, John Fontana, President of the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Tampa, Florida. In fact, the FCCG had never envisioned presenting its Treatment Award to an industry operator but it was created to recognize an individual or organization that has significantly furthered treatment services or supports to the problem gambling population in Florida.
“We cannot say enough about this year’s Treatment Award recipient, given his work on behalf of the FCCG for over a decade, coupled with his commitment to making a difference for problem gamblers and their families. While most give lip services to the concern for problem gamblers, this individual has long proved his dedication to the cause on an ongoing basis. In addition to serving as an FCCG board member for well over ten years, he is currently its’ Vice-President, and is a strong supporter of the Council and its work. The primary reason we now have accessible treatment services for problem gamblers and their families within the State of Florida is because this one individual spearheaded the journey, which resulted in voluntary funding from the Seminole Tribe of Florida,” said Pat Fowler, Executive Director.
John Fontana, President of the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino, was awarded the 2013 Treatment Award for his leadership and commitment to going above and beyond in aiding the problem gambling community by funding treatment and assuring therapeutic supports to those in need of assistance.
In turn, John Fontana presented the Florida Council on Compulsive Gambling with a quarterly treatment check in the amount of $ 437,500 from the Seminole Tribe of Florida. This funding provides the necessary supports that assure a person in need of assistance for a gambling problem can get the help they need in instances when they haven’t any insurance or an ability to pay when contacting the HelpLine.
“At the same time, it is essential to recognize Pat Fowler, the Agency’s Executive Director today, who 25 years ago started as our Deputy Director. She is the force behind the organization’s HelpLine operation, prevention and outreach programming, and treatment services,” Ashe concluded.
Other presentations at the conference today focused on the legal and criminal impacts of compulsive gambling, the benefits of specific treatment for women gamblers, and the short and long term effects on individuals and families. Finally, participants also heard from three recovering compulsive gamblers, all of whom sought help via the FCCG HelpLine, and another workshop featured the firsthand account of the wife of a compulsive gambler who survived to tell her story.