Many advertisements for sportsbooks and casinos glamorize gambling, highlighting big wins or successful trips to the casino.
In reality, problem gambling can damage much more than a bettor’s bank account. But also their personal lives and the lives of those around them.
Because of this, the Virginia Council on Problem Gambling (VCPG) recently announced the creation of the Virginia Partnership for Gaming and Health (VPGH). This VPGH focuses on improving treatment services for problem gamblers in the Old Dominion.
Included in the coalition are the VCPG, the Virginia Department of Behavioral Health and Development Services (VDBHDS). As well as the Virginia Lottery and the VCU Department of Rehabilitation Counseling/College of Health Professionals.
Acting executive director of the Virginia Lottery, Kelly T. Gee, had this to say about the new partnership:
“Since the Virginia Lottery’s inception in 1988, we have been dedicated to raising awareness about resources for those seeking help for gambling addiction. Our long-standing alliance with VCPG, including funding the helpline, demonstrates our commitment to ensuring players who may need help know where to find it. The Virginia Lottery’s role in this partnership is to support awareness of the clinicians who will provide valuable treatment options in the Commonwealth.”
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Current support system for Virginia problem gambling
From 2020 to 2021, calls to the VCPG’s help center sky-rocketed 114%. The Virginia Lottery funds the toll-free helpline. Virginians can contact the line day or night via call, text, or webchat.
When someone contacts the helpline, a VCPG worker assesses the caller’s needs. Then, a network treatment provider will help them with limited follow-up options.
What the VPGH will provide
More in-person options will become available to Virginians with the advent of this new partnership. Once evaluated by the VCPG helpline, one can work with a peer recovery specialist in their region. Specialists will offer services to both the individual and their family.
If a person has a more severe betting addiction, a VCPG contracted treatment provider can offer further evaluation. The VCPG is offering two enhanced follow-up options:
- Working with peer recovery specialists
- Providing information on local gamblers-anonymous groups
Dr. Carolyn Hawley, president of the VCPG, said:
“Unlike substance and alcohol use, gambling is considered a hidden addiction with consequences that can be just as devastating. Thanks to funding from the VDBHDS and the Virginia Lottery, as well as professional expertise from the VCU Department of Rehabilitation Counseling/College of Health Professionals, a forward-thinking approach to increased support is now available across the Commonwealth. The Virginia Partnership for Gaming and Health is committed to providing accessible and inclusive patient-centered care, treatment and support for problem gamblers and their families.”
Goals of the VPGH problem gambling program
- Provide education and training on gambling, implementing evidence-based practices
- More accessible treatment for problem gamblers and their families
- Create treatment networks within Virginia communities
- Timely reimbursement for a continuum of care
If you or someone you know has a gambling addiction, text or call 1-888-532-3500. Or you can chat online at vcpg.net.