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.
“Gambling, whether it’s at a casino or even online games, can become a compulsive behavior for some, particularly online gaming sites which can be very addictive since the cell phone is always within reach,” said Shannon Dictson, the association’s president and the coordinator of the Mescalero Responsible Gaming Program in Mescalero, New Mexico. “Our goal in Problem Gambling Awareness Month, as well as every other month, is to make sure people have the information about how to play responsibly and how to access the resources and treatment that are available, if they need help. Our website and 24/7 helpline, staffed by counselors trained in problem gambling treatment, offer lots of information as well as access to free treatment.”
March is not only Problem Gambling Awareness Month, it is also a time when the annual 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, “We even have online sports bet companies advertising on TV in professional sports. With so much promotion of gambling, we want to make sure people have information.”
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, the Association and the treatment providers that work with them offer many resources, including free treatment, are available for the gambler and their family. The Association has also announced that registration is open for their annual conference for treatment providers, which helps educate them on the latest research and options to help problem gamblers. If you need to be invoiced for your registrations, reach out to Kalika Valerio at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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 including screening tools can be found on the National Council for Problem Gambling website at ncpgambling.org.