By Margot Cahoon, Communications Director, Massachusetts Council on Compulsive Gambling

For the first time in the history of the National Council on Problem Gambling (NCPG), the group has announced National Problem Gambling Awareness Month (PGAM).

The grassroots public awareness and outreach campaign was previously held over a one-week time period, during the first week of March (Problem Gambling Awareness Week) to coincide with the National Collegiate Athletic Association’s basketball tournament commonly referred to as “March Madness,” one of the most widely bet upon events in the US.

Now, the campaign will take place over the entire month of March. This year’s theme is “Navigate Problem Gambling.” The goal of the campaign is to raise awareness about the warning signs of problem gambling, and the help that is available. There will be a different sub-theme each of the four weeks of the campaign:

  • Week 1 – March 2-8 — General Overview – What is gambling? When does gambling become problem gambling? Is gambling an addiction (DSM-5 definition)? What are the signs of a gambling problem?
  • Week 2 – March 9-15 — The Impact – Why do I need to know about problem gambling? How does problem gambling affect me? What are the consequences of problem gambling?
  • Week 3 – March 16-22 — Responsible Gambling – What does it mean to gamble responsibly? How do I do that? How do I know if my loved one is gambling responsibly or if there’s a problem?
  • Week 4 – March 23-March 31 — Help is Available Now – What do I do if I have (or my loved one has) a gambling problem? What other resources are available?

The Massachusetts Council on Compulsive Gambling is participating in the campaign in the following ways:

  • New PSA! – Launching our new TV Public Service Announcement (PSA) entitled, “Games You Shouldn’t Miss” (English) (Spanish).
  • Gambling Disorder Screening Day — Supporting Harvard Medical School, Division on Addiction (HMS/DOA) in the promotion of their screening day on Tuesday, March 11. To join the effort, please download the Division’s screening tools or contact Dr. LaPlante.
  • Sharing Resources – Collaborating with partners, industry, and other stakeholders to share resources and to promote the campaign via events, trainings, and both traditional and social media venues.  
  • Contest! – Canvasing the Commonwealth to distribute flyers promoting our toll-free Helpline, and by staffing exhibit tables to spread awareness and answer questions. Join the effort and be recognized and rewarded!

If you plan on taking part in PGAM activities, we want to recognize and reward your efforts! All participants will be acknowledged in our next newsletter and on our website. And the top two participants /groups will be awarded $150 each.

Please e-mail me Margot Cahoon with an explanation of your project, an estimation of how many people you reached, as well as any accompanying photos by Friday, April 4, 2014 if you would like to be included.

We are excited for this month-long campaign, and look forward to hearing from you!