March officially marks National Problem Gambling Awareness Month, and the Virginia Lottery wants players to know the risks and practice responsible gambling.
The Lottery’s public service announcement: Seek help if you or someone you know has a gambling addiction.
“As gambling options become more widespread across Virginia, the Lottery is more committed than ever to raising awareness of problem gambling and encouraging responsible play,” Kelly T. Gee, executive director of the Virginia Lottery, said in a release.
“As the Lottery’s role has expanded to include the licensure and regulation of sports wagering and casinos in the Commonwealth, we make sure problem gambling awareness plays a preeminent role in their compliance requirements.”
Virginia Lottery PSA highlight effects of problem gambling
In its recent PSA, the Lottery’s campaign highlights the alienation aspect of problem gambling with a man who, as he put it, “wasn’t myself” when he was gambling.
In fact, he added, it almost felt like he had “become alien.” Cut to the man in full alien costume.
“I was distant from my family and friends,” the campaign video’s protagonist says. “My co-workers noticed, too. Bills piled up. My relationships suffered.”
It’s a clever way to spotlight alienation, but it shows viewers exactly how to get help.
What is problem gambling?
Most choose to gamble for fun or recreation and don’t have any issues. Some practice responsible gambling in Virginia, setting limits, knowing that when their stipend runs dry, they’re out.
But it’s a different story for those with gambling problems.
The Virginia Lottery describes problem gambling as “all gambling behavior patterns that compromise, disrupt or damage personal, family or vocational pursuits.”
It’s a path where gambling could result in financial destruction, legal issues, issues in the workplace, or self-harm.
Lottery partners with Virginia Council on Problem Gaming to raise awareness
During March — and all other months of the year — the Virginia Lottery partners with the Virginia Council on Problem Gaming. The goal is to highlight resources for those looking for help.
“The Virginia Council on Problem Gambling is committed to raising public awareness about what problem gambling is and, most importantly, the resources that are available to get advice and support,” Dr. Carolyn Hawley, Ph.D., president of VCPG, said in a release. “We want anyone who might be struggling with a gambling disorder to know that we can help.”
Each month, taxes from Virginia gambling go toward the state’s problem gambling treatment and support fund. Looking at sports betting specifically, 2.5% of the adjusted gross revenue goes toward the fund. In January, the most recent month on file, Virginia sports betting raised just over $159,000 for problem gambling treatment.
The Virginia Department of Behavioral Health and Development Services distributes funding from the problem gambling allocation.
Virginia offers problem gambling helpline, voluntary exclusion
The Virginia Lottery offers a handful of services for those looking to receive help.
888-532-3500 is the state’s problem gambling helpline. Customers can call or text the state’s problem gambling helpline to get help. There are also other resources available. You can reach out to the National Council on Problem Gambling or Gamblers Anonymous. If you or someone you know has a problem, the Virginia Department of Behavioral and Developmental Health can help as well.
In addition, similar to many other states, Virginia offers voluntary exclusion programs. Like the name says, the voluntary exclusion program lets those with gambling problems voluntarily bar themselves from participating in legalized gambling within Virginia. That includes casino gaming, lottery games, online sports betting, horse race wagering and charitable gaming.
The self exclusion programs runs for either two years, five years or a lifetime. Once you’re in the program, you cannot be removed until your exclusion period ends.
Once you’re on the list, you cannot enter a casino facility until after your exclusion time ends. Should you attempt to enter a facility, you could be charged with trespassing. If you’re caught gambling, you forfeit your winnings. Those confiscated winnings then go toward the Commonwealth’s Problem Gambling Treatment and Support Fund.