FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE CONTACT: GUY COUSINS
February 28, 2007 Office of Substance Abuse
(207) 287-2595

DO YOU KNOW SOMEONE WHO GAMBLES TOO MUCH?

The Maine State Office of Substance Abuse Services (OSA), the Maine Gambling Control Unit, a division of the state Department of Public Safety, the Bureau of Alcoholic Beverages & Lottery Operations, and AdCare Educational Institute of Maine, Inc. are working to raise awareness of the consequences of problem gambling in Maine . Toward that end, the coalition is pointing out the resources available for individuals whose gambling is causing disruption in their lives are during National Problem Gambling Awareness Month -- March 2007.

Gov. John Baldacci has proclaimed the week of March 19 as "Problem Gambling Awareness Week in Maine ." Print and television advertising will increase public awareness. "We want Mainers to know that treatment for problem gambling is not only available, but is also effective in improving the lives of problem gamblers and their families. This time is also a celebration of the men and women who are overcoming problems associated with their gambling behavior," says Guy Cousins, associate director of the Maine Office of Substance Abuse.

Everyone interested in learning more about gambling addiction, its prevention and treatment can attend four educational workshops during the week of March 19-23. Thomas E. Broffman, Ph.D., assistant professor of Social Work at Eastern Connecticut State University , will present the trainings to be held in Orono, Waterville and Portland . Contact AdCare for the registration brochure at (207) 621-2549; or you can also use their Website, http://www.neias.org/SATadcareME.html .

"Gambling has a recorded history of over 5000 years and is found in virtually every culture around the globe. Problem gambling is an emerging issue in our society, as legalized gambling has proliferated across all sectors," says Broffman. "We have seen marked increases in rates of problem gambling among both elders and youth. Maine is to be congratulated for beginning to address this issue, by inaugurating its first Problem Gambling Awareness Week to educate both the professional community and general public."

For those who want help, Gamblers Anonymous, a 12-step recovery program for problem gamblers, conducts weekly self-help meetings throughout Maine . Call (207) 773-7867. Also, the Maine Council on Problem Gambling may be called at (207) 775-4357 or e-mail at MECPG05@hotmail.com . "A primary focus of this effort is to promote the fact that treatment works and is available in Maine ," says Cousins. "In order to make a positive impact in the community, we need to be sure that the individuals and families who need services are able to access them."

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GAMBLING FACTS AND FIGURES

GAMBLING & SPENDING

. 85% of US adults have gambled at least once in their lives, 80% in past year.

. Since 1975, the proportion of adults who "never gambled" dropped from 1 in 3 to 1 in 7.

. 48 States with some form of legalized gambling ( Hawaii and Utah are the exceptions)

. 2002 U.S. legal gaming revenue was $68.7 billion.

. In 1999 the National Gambling Impact Study Commission estimated the annual cost to society of problem gambling was $5 billion.

. During fiscal year 2002, U.S. lottery sales totaled $42.4 billion; per capita sales were $168 (NASPL, 2003)

. It is estimated that in 1997 Americans collectively wagered more than $1/2 trillion (National Research Council, 1999)

. Consumers spend more on legal gaming in the U.S. than most other forms of entertainment combined (1998 Gross Annual Wager Report, 1999)

. Forty to 60 percent of cash wagered in casinos is withdrawn from ATMs, either from personal accounts or as cash advances from credit cards (NORC, 1999)

 

HARMFUL IMPACTS OF PROBLEM GAMBLING

It is important to recognize that most people can gamble without negative consequences. A small percentage, however, of persons who gamble suffer enormous social, economic, and psychological implications. Individuals, families and communities all suffer from problem gambling, and, while it would be impossible to describe all of the repercussions associated with problem gambling, the following issues help to illustrate why problem gambling can be so destructive.

Domestic Issues

Effects of Adult Problem Gambling on Children:

. "Children of compulsive gamblers are often prone to suffer abuse, as well as neglect, as a result of parental problem or pathological gambling" (NORC, 1999)

. Research consistently shows higher rates of pathological gambling in teens whose parents gamble too much (Gupta & Derevensky, 1997; Jacobs, 2000; Wallisch & Liu, 1996)

. Children of problem gamblers have been shown to have higher levels of use for tobacco, alcohol, drug use, and overeating than do their classroom peers (Gupta & Derevensky, 1997)

. Child endangerment and child abuse may increase (NRC, 1999)

. The NRC reported on two studies indicating between 10 and 17 percent of children of compulsive gamblers had been abused" (NRC, 1999)

. Child endangerment was exemplified in Oregon with the September 2001 report of an Oregon licensed day-care provider who left three children (1, 2 and 3 years old) in a van for over 11 hours while she gambled in a casino (Lawrence-Turner, 2001, September 15)

Domestic Violence

. According to the National Research Council (1999), studies indicate that between 25-50 percent of spouses of pathological gamblers have been abused

. Case studies of 10 casino communities revealed that the majority of those communities witnessed increases in domestic violence related to the opening of casinos (National Opinion Research Center, 1999)

Crime

. Several studies suggest that crime rates rise with increased availability of gambling to communities, but this issue is under intense debate

. Forty percent of clients enrolled in Oregon 's gambling treatment system reported committing crimes to finance their gambling ( Moore , 2003)

. "As access to money becomes more limited, gamblers often resort to crime in order to pay debts, appease bookies, maintain appearances, and garner more money to gamble" (NRC, 1999)

. Studies of Gamblers Anonymous (GA) members report that approximately half of the participants had stolen to gamble and over one-third had been arrested (Thompson, Gazel, & Rickman, 1996)

. The vast majority of gambling-related crimes are non-violent; embezzlement, check forgery, stealing credit cards, fencing stolen goods, tax evasion, insurance fraud, employee theft and fraud are common gambling-related crimes

Suicide/Depression

. Ten percent of clients enrolled in Oregon 's gambling treatment system considered and formulated plans to commit suicide within six months of enrollment to treatment ( Moore , 2003)

. A major depressive disorder is likely to occur in 76 percent of pathological gamblers (Unwin Davis, & Leeuw, 2000)