An art contest is underway for New Mexico students in grades 6 through 12 to help educate their peers about the risks of underage gambling and the potential for harm. According to the National Council on Problem Gambling, between 60 to 80 percent of high school students report having gambled for money in the past year and 4-6% meet the criteria of a problem gambler.

The contest is sponsored by the Responsible Gaming Association of New Mexico (RGANM), a collaboration of the state’s Native American-owned tribal casinos. Submitted artwork will be evaluated for use in a student planner booklet that RGANM will print and distribute for the 2024-2025 school year. Thirteen submissions will be chosen for the planner’s cover and 12 months; the winning cover design will receive a $100 gift card and each winner for a monthly page will receive a $50 gift card.

“The student planner includes broader information in addition to advocating against underage gambling,” said Shannon Dictson, president of RGANM and coordinator of the Mescalero Responsible Gaming Program. “Information is also included about suicide prevention, obesity, vaping, underage drinking, and issues relevant to teens and young adults.”

She says the planner is a way to help spread the message that gambling is a form of entertainment to be enjoyed in moderation by adults and should only use disposable income. “This is a way to share information to help students and encourage them to not participate in addictive or potentially harmful activities,” she said.

Artwork should be on 8.5×11 white paper, either horizontal or vertical. It should illustrate a message such as:

  • Set a dollar limit and stick with it
  • There are times when people should not gamble
  • Free counseling is available for anyone with a gambling problem
  • Gambling is not essential for having fun
  • Don’t let gambling interfere with family, friends or work.
  • Kids are 2-3 times the risk of adults for developing a gambling problem
  • The Problem Gambling Helpline in New Mexico is 1-888-696-2440

The student’s name, grade level and school should be included in the artwork itself, as well as a valid phone number and email. Submissions can be made to For more information, call 575- 464-7106. The deadline for submissions is April 15, 2024.

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 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

More information about those resources can be found at 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

A new series of videos are available on our website for treatment providers and the gamblers and family members affected by problem gambling. The videos include nationally recognized experts on addictions as well as New Mexico treatment providers.

The topics include:
– “ACEs: The Link Between Childhood Trauma, Brain Chemistry, and Addictions”: ACEs (Adverse Childhood Experiences) has a direct correlation with the likelihood of issues for adolescents and adults. They are more prone to addictive behaviors as well as other health issues. Nationally recognized speaker, Frank Kros, MSW, JD, explains the tie between ACEs and compulsive gambling.
“Harm Reduction in Gambling”: Loreen Rugle, PhD, explains that research has shown gamblers may benefit from harm reduction techniques as opposed to trying to never gamble again. Daniel Blackwood, Director of The Evolution Group, covers information on how to approach harm reduction.
“Self Help Programs for Gambling”: the Gamblers Anonymous national spokesperson and treatment providers for compulsive gambling offer information on how self help programs work, what to expect, and how to get involved.
“Self Bans in Casinos”: New Mexico casinos all offer a self-ban program, where a gambler may choose to self-exclude from the property. Learn what to expect, how the self-bans may differ at various properties, and if this is an option you’d like to explore.
“Sports Betting”: Wagering on sports is now possible in many New Mexico casinos, and across the nation, is often available on apps on your smart phone. Learn the impact of sports betting, why it is perhaps more addictive than other types of gaming, and how to play responsibly.

The videos were produces by Edit House Productions, one of New Mexico’s leading video production companies. Edit House has worked with the Responsible Gaming Association since 2006.

For information on our 2023 efforts in education, prevention, and treatment for compulsive gamblers and their families, our annual report offers a review of the outreach provided. The Responsible Gaming Association of New Mexico is a voluntary collaboration of Native-owned casino properties. By pooling our funds for outreach about problem gambling, we are able to offer a cohesive program to educate New Mexicans, advocating responsible gaming and offering support and treatment for those who begin to gamble too much, as well as to their families. For information about our efforts, please email Click the pdf below to access the 2023 report.

RGA 2023 Annual Report


Free, confidential help is available during Covid-19

If you are struggling with a gambling problem, or if you’re the partner or loved one of someone affected by compulsive gambling, free help is available. Even during times such as the pandemic, the Responsible Gaming Association of New Mexico is offering support through education and free treatment.

Whether you live in a town or a rural area, “virtual” sessions provide confidential access to treatment services by trained professionals.

Via the internet, mental health treatment for gambling problems is now available so that everyone can access high quality assistance without having to drive long distances.

All you need is an internet connection, a private place in your home or at work, and a smart phone, tablet, laptop, or desktop computer that has a working microphone and speakers.

To learn more about this virtual service and treatment for problem gambling, call the Responsible Gaming Association helpline. Calls are answered 24/7. You can also visit to learn more.

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