Virginia Lottery Partners With Problem Gambling Council To Boost Awareness

Written By Phil West on March 6, 2024
The Virginia Lottery is teaming up in March to raise awareness on problem gambling.

The Virginia Lottery is partnering with the Virginia Council on Problem Gambling to help raise awareness about problem gambling during March.

The effort ties in with Problem Gambling Awareness Month. The annual campaign by the National Council on Problem Gambling coincides with one of the most popular times to bet on sports: the annual NCAA basketball tournament known colloquially as March Madness.

Their partnership, according to a press release, will include “encouraging people with questions about problem gambling to call the Virginia Problem Gambling Helpline. The Lottery also will use paid media to raise awareness of the helpline, along with the Lottery’s popular social media platforms, point-of-sale items, informational brochures, posters, outreach to the Lottery’s player database, and more. In addition, every Virginia Lottery ticket displays the helpline number.”

The Lottery will also re-circulate a PSA produced with the Virginia Council on Problem Gambling in 2020 promoting responsible gambling in Virginia.

More gambling options result in more problem gamblers in Virginia

Virginia promotes responsible gambling year-round. The Virginia Problem Gambling Helpline (888-532-3500), is toll-free, confidential and available 24/7 via phone, text or chat. It was initially created by the Virginia Lottery in 1999 before the Virginia Council on Problem Gambling (VCPG) took over its management.

Virginia Lottery Interim Executive Director Tony Russell said it’s more important than ever to combat problem gambling.

“As forms of legalized gambling continue to increase in the commonwealth, it’s vital that all Virginians know how a person or a loved one can seek help for gambling addiction. The Lottery is committed to leading the effort to raise awareness in Virginia.

“The work done by the Virginia Council on Problem Gambling is vital now more than ever for the commonwealth. The Virginia Lottery for many years has been proud to partner with the VCPG to help raise awareness of problem gambling and resources available in Virginia that can help.”

In Virginia, and across the US, opportunities to gamble have multiplied over the last several years. Sports betting in the commonwealth has reached new milestones, and three casinos are now in operation.

Dr. Carolyn Hawley, president of VCPG, said calls for help in Virginia have rose dramatically over the last five years.

“As gambling options have increased, Virginians have become more at risk for developing issues with problem gambling. Calls to the Virginia Problem Gambling Helpline have increased exponentially over the past five years, spiking 973% between 2019 and 2023.”

Hawley said recognizing the signs of problem gambling is crucial.

“As our state’s legislature continues to make multiple new forms of gambling legal and easier than ever to access, it’s important for Virginians to be aware of the signs of problem gambling, whether it’s for themselves or someone they know. We want anyone who might be struggling with a gambling disorder to know that we can help.”

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Phil West

Phil West is a longtime journalist based in Austin, Texas, whose bylines have appeared in The Daily Dot, Nautilus, Pro Soccer USA, Howler, Los Angeles Times, Seattle Times, Philadelphia Inquirer, San Antonio Express-News, Austin American-Statesman, and Austin Chronicle. He has also written two books about soccer.

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