National Problem Gambling Awareness Week Begins Today

Contact: T.J. Bucholz (517) 241-2112
Agency: Community Health

March 8, 2004

The Michigan Department of Community Health (MDCH) is partnering with communities across the country this week, as it proclaims March 8 to 14 as National Problem Gambling Awareness Week.

Throughout this week, communities nationwide are working to raise awareness of the consequences of problem gambling and increase public awareness for the availability and benefits associated with problem gambling treatment.

“In Michigan, we are making every effort to minimize the consequences of problem gambling among our citizens,” said Janet Olszewski, MDCH Director. “Problem gambling negatively affects the lives of thousands of people and cuts across all socio-economic levels. It is imperative that we increase our efforts to address this troubling problem.”

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 behaviors surveys of youth now indicate that one to two percent of children under of age of 18 participate in some form of gambling.

Olszewski said the state also is currently considering research to determine the community impact of problem gambling and its associated effects on various populations.

Michigan allocates $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 for information and assistance is available statewide. The number is published on the back of lottery tickets, available in Detroit casinos, phone books, and various public service announcements. Last year, 1,987 individuals who called the toll-free help line were referred to Gamblers Anonymous and other related services.

Confidential, no-cost treatment services, accessed through the toll-free number, are available statewide through a network of trained counselors. Last year, a statewide network of 50 licensed clinicians provided individual and group treatment to 393 individuals.

A gambling awareness curriculum is available for schools to use as part of their prevention curriculum. Last year, the curriculum was taught in 66 school buildings and 107 class sections, including 26 middle schools, 26 high schools, and four alternative education centers.

Prevention activities, through public service announcements and brochures

The Office of Drug Control Policy – through MDCH – also has established a speaker’s bureau to inform and educate the public about compulsive gambling.