MDCH Announces Problem Gambling Awareness Week As March 6-12

Contact: Beth Perrine (517) 241-2112
Agency: Community Health

March 7, 2005  

The Michigan Department of Community Health (MDCH) is partnering with communities across the country this week as it proclaims March 6 through the 12 as National Problem Gambling Awareness Week.

During this week-long campaign, the primary goal will be for communities in Michigan to raise awareness of the symptoms and consequences of problem gambling.

“The issue of problem gambling severely affects the lives and health of so many Michigan citizens,” said Janet Olszewski, MDCH Director. “I believe the awareness generated from this designated week will lead to healthier lives for those affected by problem gambling. Therefore, it is extremely important to use this as a stepping stone to address the issue every day of the year.”

In the most recent survey of gambling behaviors, authored by researchers at Western Michigan University, it is estimated that at least 205,800 Michigan residents have a gambling problem. Additionally, risk behavior surveys of youth now indicate that one to two percent of children under the age of 18 participate in some form of gambling.

“Gambling for fun and recreation can be very satisfactory,” said Yvonne Blackmond, Director of the Office of Drug Control Policy. “But when people depend upon their winnings to satisfy their debts, they have crossed into dangerous territory.”

Michigan allocates approximately $3 million each year – primarily from casino licensing fees – for treatment, prevention, education, training, research and the evaluation of pathological gamblers and their families.

These funds are primarily used for:

  • A toll-free, confidential number (800-270-7117) for information and assistance is available statewide. The number is published on the back of lottery tickets, available in Detroit casinos, phone books, and through various public service announcements.
  • Confidential, treatment services, accessed through the toll-free number, are available statewide through a network of trained counselors.
  • A gambling awareness curriculum is available for schools to use as part of their prevention curriculum.
  • Prevention activities, through public service announcements and brochures.

“One of the goals of Problem Gambling Awareness Week is to let citizens know that help is available,” Blackmond said. “If you need help with a gambling problem for yourself or are seeking help for a loved one, please call the 24-hour toll free confidential line at 800-270-7117.”