Each year in the United States, March is observed as Problem Gambling Awareness Month. In New Mexico, the Responsible Gaming Association of New Mexico (RGANM) offers year-round outreach, prevention, and treatment for those affected by problem gambling.
In 2021, even with many of the state’s Native American-owned casino properties closed due to Covid-19, RGANM reported an 11% increase over the prior year in visits to the website, RGANM.org. Of those visitors, there was a significant increase in clicks to a treatment providers’ website, up 78% from 2020.
“We know that even when our casinos were closed, many people still find ways to gamble, particularly through online gaming sites which can be very addictive,” said Shannon Dictson, the association’s vice president and the coordinator of the Mescalero Responsible Gaming Program in Mescalero, New Mexico. “Our website and 24/7 helpline, staffed by counselors trained in problem gambling treatment, continued to serve people, even when the casino properties were closed.”
March is not only Problem Gambling Awareness Month, it is also a time when the annual college basketball tournament is held. Research conducted by American Gaming Association says that 47 million Americans expect to wager on the March Madness tournament. One analyst on BoydsBets.com estimates that nearly half a billion dollars will be wagered during the tournament, with players making bets in Las Vegas, online gaming, sportsbooks, and office pools.
“Gambling has become pervasive across the United States,” said Dictson. “In New Mexico, before the first Native casino opened in 1995, a collaboration of tribes formed the Responsible Gaming Association of New Mexico, knowing that resources would be needed. During March, and across the entire year, we want people to know that many resources, including free treatment, are available for the gambler and their family. We also have announced our series of 2022 webinars for treatment providers, which helps educate them on the latest research and options to help problem gamblers.”
More information about those resources can be found at RGANM.org or by calling the RGANM Helpline at 888-696-2440. Nationwide statistics and resources can be found on the National Council for Problem Gambling website at ncpgambling.org.