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March is Problem Gambling Awareness Month

The N.C. Lottery is using its resources during Problem Gambling Awareness Month to help make sure anyone who has a gambling problem knows that help is available.

“It’s important that those who choose to play the lottery play for fun and play with money set aside for entertainment,” said Alice Garland, executive director of the N.C. Education Lottery. “While most folks who play lottery games do play responsibly, the N.C. Problem Gambling Program can provide help to those who play too much.”

This week, the lottery will use its advertising resources to broadcast ads statewide to raise awareness about the toll-free, 24/7 problem gambling helpline. Throughout the month, the lottery is using other communications channels, including its website, social media channels and monitors in all 6,850 lottery retail locations, to spread news and information about the resources available to someone with a gambling problem. The efforts are part of the state’s observance of national Problem Gambling Awareness Month, as recognized in a proclamation issued earlier this month by Gov. Roy Cooper.

The Education Lottery provides $1 million a year to support problem gambling services ranging from the helpline to prevention efforts to free treatment and care. The helpline offers three ways for someone to seek help with a gambling problem. Each is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. They are:

  • Texting morethanagamenc to 53342. The text service also allows someone to subscribe via text to a motivational messaging program, receiving two texts a week for six months to help the subscriber cope with gambling issues.
  • Joining a live web chat at www.morethanagamenc.com.
  • Calling the toll-free helpline at (877) 718-5543.

Garland said the lottery is constantly reviewing its sales, advertising and marketing practices to help ensure responsible gaming. She chairs the Responsible Gaming Committee of the National Association of State and Provincial Lotteries, the lottery industry’s professional trade group. The lottery also works year-round in partnership with the National Council on Problem Gambling and the state Problem Gambling Program to get the latest information on how lottery games impact problem gambling.

In a March 14 presentation to the N.C. Education Lottery Commission, the program reported 469 callers requested services in fiscal year 2016, including 362 who described themselves as problem gamblers and 107 who said they were affected by problem gambling. It also reported:

  • A 3 percent increase in helpline engagements via text or online chats.
  • Most callers reported learning about the helpline from lottery tickets, lottery ads or other lottery materials.
  • Prevention projects at 33 colleges and 62 middle school and high schools.