National Council on Problem Gambling to Take 1-800-GAMBLER Nationwide
The National Council on Problem Gambling (NCPG) last year called on reforms to better protect at-risk gamblers and sports bettors. Part of that mission is unifying toll-free helplines into a single, easy-to-remember number.
NCPG Executive Director Keith Whyte told PlayUSA recently that the national problem gambling agency hopes to soon roll out such a nationwide helpline. Whyte explained that the NCPG is nearing an agreement with the Council on Compulsive Gambling of New Jersey to take the latter nonprofit’s 1-800-GAMBLER across the country.
The New Jersey problem gambling organization operates 1-800-GAMBLER and www.800gambler.org. The outlets provide an array of resources for those seeking help with gambling disorders.
Whyte told PlayUSA that the NCPG has struck a deal with the New Jersey Council on Compulsive Gambling to lease the 1-800-GAMBLER helpline to all 50 states. When someone in Pennsylvania, for example, dials the number, they will be automatically directed to the state’s problem gambling agency.
Currently, most states that have commercial gambling offer addiction services for those negatively affected by the industry. But those state resources largely operate independently of one another.
The American Gaming Association (AGA) and NCPG are in agreement that a national toll-free helpline would better serve those struggling to keep gambling fun and a form of entertainment.
“The use of a national helpline in national advertising is the most effective way to protect players,” said Jessica Feil, the AGA’s vice president of government relations and gaming policy.
Problem gambling helplines are a vital resource for those in need of help. Unfortunately, lengthy lists of state-specific helplines on national advertisements create barriers for those seeking help, when we should be making these critical resources easily accessible,” Feil added.
All state commercial casino markets require that gambling advertisements include fine print explaining where problem gamblers or those seeking to assist someone can find help. The National Council on Problem Gambling’s national hotline is presently 1-800-522-4700.
One Ad, Many Numbers
The nation’s leading sportsbook operators that are advertising heavily on television do business in numerous states. State gaming regulators, however, require such online mobile gaming firms to display their state-specific helplines.
For iGaming platforms like Caesars Sportsbook, DraftKings, FanDuel, and BetMGM, which are live in more than a dozen states, their television commercials conclude with a laundry list of toll-free hotlines. Problem gambling experts say that doesn’t serve those in need in the best manner possible.
“Multiple helpline numbers cause consumer confusion,” the AGA said. The trade group added that some gamblers likely don’t know which number they should call.
Soon, the NCPG says a simple, concise 1-800-GAMBLER hotline could serve as a one-stop resource that will automatically redirect those seeking help to the appropriate center. But that could require regulatory changes in individual states.
For example, in Ohio, gambling ads are required under state law to include the Ohio Problem Gambling Helpline number 1-800-589-9966. To rid that direction in favor of 1-800-GAMBLER, a regulatory amendment is likely needed.
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