The Missouri Alliance to Curb Problem Gambling has ushered in Responsible Gaming Education Week with the goal of heightening awareness about the dangers associated with out of control gambling and the fact help is available for those with the gambling addiction.
Alliance spokesman Gary Gonder says that while most people who gamble walk away from casinos without any trouble, some Missourians experience problems.
"The statistics go something like .5 to 1 percent of adults are considered compulsive or pathological gamblers," said Gonder in an interview with the Missourinet. "But more importantly, up to 5 percent are problem gamblers, which means they’re approaching a pathological behavior."
The first step in getting that help is a call to 1-888-BETSOFF – (1-888-238-7633).
"We, last year, received a little over 1900 calls to our hotline," said Gonder. "It doesn’t sound like a lot of calls, but those people were either sent to Gamblers Anonymous or maybe they were referred to the free problem gambling assistance that’s available in Missouri, not only for the gambler but to the gambler’s family members."
While 1-888-BETSOFF is a national help effort, calls made from Missouri are answered in St. Louis by people who are aware of additional help available in this state.
"Over 25 percent of the calls we get every month are from family members or friends," said Gonder. "Trying to figure out what they can do to get their family member into some treatment."
Counselors for problem gamblers are provided free of charge through a small fee paid by Missouri’s casino operators.
Missouri is a national leader in problem gambling programs and was the first state to hold a statewide awareness week.