March opens the way to spring, a time of promise and renewal for most. For people with a gambling problem, however, it is marked by peril. To counter the barrage of betting and gambling ads that go hand-in-hand with college basketball’s March Madness, the Council on Compulsive Gambling-New Jersey (CCGNJ) will observe Problem Gambling Awareness Month (PGAM).
CCGNJ’s theme for PGAM is “Be Informed – Be Empowered,” embodying the philosophy that providing information equips people to make smart, informed decisions to prevent a gambling problem. The CCGNJ will hold numerous events in March to meet those twin objectives, making presentations throughout the state, convening weekly webinars that explore various gambling issues, as well as maintaining a week-long presence at the State House in Trenton to discuss concerns and raise awareness with legislators, policy-makers and the public.
Felicia Grondin, CCGNJ Executive Director, said, “March welcomes the change of seasons but is also deeply identified with the annual NCAA basketball tournament. For people with a gambling addiction or in recovery from such an addiction, March Madness is rife with temptation. We at CCGNJ want to ensure that, during Problem Gaming Awareness Month, in particular, the hope of support and recovery is available to people with a gambling problem and their families. Our helpline, 800-GAMBLER, takes calls 24/7 and provides the assistance and resources the caller needs. We provide information about treatment, virtual and in-person Gamblers Anonymous meetings, gambling self-exclusion, and a great deal more. And there is help for affected family members.”
Throughout PGAM, the Council will increase awareness about gambling and the signs of a problem with the public, the media, and lawmakers. With the advent of online gambling and sports gambling in New Jersey, access to betting is at one’s fingertips. For the problem gambler in recovery, carrying a phone is akin to an alcoholic carrying around a bottle of vodka — it is a recipe for disaster.
A series of upcoming webinars will examine different aspects of gambling. The topics are as follows, with the registration link after each title:
- “Problem Gambling among Veterans and Active Duty Military” (March 11) https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_XeWROmWvSNyCsAn7ERUkIQ;
- “Sports Gambling in New Jersey – March Madness and Beyond” (March 25) https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_zim9vYFXSzqagmGdTYu2Jg;
- “Exploring the link between Homelessness and Gambling” (April 8) https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_mlFcZyJgSZan2e7FmRn3Vw
In addition to the webinars, CCGNJ staff will travel the state and host zoom meetings to lay out the risks of gambling to high schools and colleges, places of worship, social service organizations, and senior centers.
To see how gambling in New Jersey has grown in just the past few years, in 2019, the amount of legal SportsBook bets placed on the NFL’s Big Game was $35 million; this year, wagering totaled just under $144 million. March Madness is expected to see a similar spike in betting.
Throughout March and throughout the year, CCGNJ is dedicated to bringing the issue of problem gambling to light and ensuring there are sufficient resources and services for the growing number of New Jersey residents who need them. And remember, if you or anyone you know may have a gambling problem, please call 1-800-GAMBLER; we are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to listen and provide support, treatment, and hope.