For the 19th year in Oregon and across the country, March is National Problem Gambling Awareness Month [PGAM]. This dedicated effort helps increase public awareness of problem gambling and the availability of prevention, treatment, and recovery services. PGAM’s campaign theme, “Awareness + Action,” brings all those elements into focus.
National Problem Gambling Awareness Month is a grassroots effort that brings together a wide range of stakeholders – public health organizations, advocacy groups and gambling operators – who work collaboratively to let people know that hope and help exist.
“Over the last two years, the Oregon Lottery has brought special attention to problem gambling, given the stress, isolation, and financial uncertainty of so many Oregonians throughout the pandemic,” said Lottery Responsible and Problem Gambling Program Manager Krystal Smith. “Some can be tempted to seek hope through the many gambling options available online and with the widespread legalization of online sports wagering.
“Here in Oregon, outreach continues to be challenging because of the pandemic. We want people to know that they’re not alone, and that there is effective, free and confidential help available for them as well as their loved ones even if isolated at home.”
“Creating awareness of problem gambling and available resources is a statewide commitment that is reflected in the official proclamation that Oregon Lottery and the Oregon Health Authority worked with the Governor’s office to develop,” added Senior Manager Product Marketing Stacy Shaw, who also serves on the board of the Oregon Council on Problem Gambling.
“It’s great that people are seeking information,” Shaw said, “and we hope that the conversation and action continues to grow. We’re proud to be in a state that has robust system of prevention through treatment services that are free to anyone concerned about gambling problems, and we want people to know that they don’t have to worry about seeking help.
“This year we are focusing on letting people know that in Oregon treatment is really free, a message that’s important to people struggling with gambling issues.”
Problem Gambling Services Manager Greta Coe, with Oregon Health Authority’s Health Systems Division, notes the COVID pandemic has made this a very trying and isolating time for many people. “Because of this,” Coe said, “it was important for Oregon Problem Gambling Resource (OPGR) and other local community sources to ramp up their outreach activities and media presence to address the increase in gambling activity and addiction.
“We’ve expanded our efforts to build awareness that gambling is an activity that comes with risks,” said Coe, “and it’s crucial we provide both free education and judgment-free treatment for those who develop gambling problems, as well as resources for those impacted by a loved one’s gambling.”
The Oregon Lottery’s commitment to problem gambling support is year-round. Since 1992, one percent of Oregon Lottery profits have funded problem gambling treatment and prevention efforts throughout Oregon. Since that time, over $111 million in Lottery funds has supported those services.