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National Problem Gambling Awareness Week

February 23, 2009

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Problem Gambling is a reality and it cannot be wished away. Nor can problem gambling be eliminated by banning gambling. Lessons learnt in the prohibition era tell us that by trying to ban gambling, gambling will not go away but problem gambling will increase. The only way to deal with problem gambling is to spread awareness about problem gambling so that those who are not problem gamblers do not become one and those who are problem gamblers submit themselves for required treatment. This is precisely what the National Council on Problem Gambling (NCPG) seeks to do by holding a National Problem Gambling Awareness Week every year. This year the week is from the 1st to the 7th of March.

The NCPG has identified the age group of young adults as that with the highest risk to problem gambling. Therefore the focus this year is on tools and content that will appeal to this age group. One of the forums that are commonly used by young people is social networking sites. Fortunately such sites provide other advantages as well. NCPG Program Manager Linda Abonyo explained that online social networking sites embody the advantages of cost effectiveness, confidentiality and anonymity. She added that problem gamblers find it easier to open up and admit their problems under assumed identities that online forums offer. Therefore counseling offered through these forums is more effective. One of the forums chosen this year is the YouTube. Apart from it being almost universally used it enables people to create and upload their own videos. The NCPG and associated bodies have put up their videos promoting awareness about problem gambling. But they are encouraging problem gamblers to put up their own experiences on YouTube. A separate channel has been opened by YouTube for this laudable mission, which is at
This they feel will add credibility to the core message of this year’s National Problem Gambling Awareness Week.

The core message is “Real Addiction Real Recovery”. The NCPG wants gamblers to realize that problem gambling is a real disease. And they want problem gamblers to know that real recovery is possible. But for this the problem gamblers have to take the first two steps. The first is to admit that they suffer from this disease and the second is to seek help. The message that is being delivered is that problem gamblers need some external influence to help them take the step of seeking assistance. The Florida Council on Compulsive Gambling (FCCG) has depicted the influence of friends. The tag line of their videos is “Friendship: The only thing gambling can’t stand up to.” Spouses and children are the other agents who act as a trigger for seeking help. There are already 15 videos on YouTube and more are being added.

If you think you have a gambling problem we recommend checking out some of the following resources:

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