March is Problem Gambling Awareness Month

The Area Substance Abuse Council (ASAC), in collaboration with the Iowa Department of Public Health and the National Council on Problem Gambling, dedicates March to helping people “have the conversation” about problem gambling. Approximately 2 million (1%) of U.S. adults are estimated to meet criteria for Gambling Disorder and another 4-6 million (2-3%) would be considered problem gamblers; yet for many, gambling remains a hidden addiction.

Problem Gambling Awareness Month is designed to help raise awareness of the prevention, treatment and recovery services available for those adversely affected by gambling. The grassroots campaign brings together a wide range of stakeholders—public health organizations, advocacy groups and gambling operators—who work collaboratively to let people know that hope and help exist.

Since the legalization of sports betting in Iowa in May 2019, the amounts wagered have steadily increased each month. According to Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission reports, more than $212.2 million was wagered at Iowa casinos in 2020, with net revenue for the state exceeding $19 million. As March Madness reaches a crescendo with an estimated $10 billion in bets placed nationally on the NCAA basketball championship games, calls to the National Problem Gambling Helpline spike an average of 30% during the month. It is likely that Iowa will see an increase in the need for services as well.

During the month of March, Prevention Specialists at ASAC will be raising awareness of problem gambling throughout the agency’s service area of Linn, Benton, Jones, Clinton and Jackson Counties. ASAC will facilitate free trainings at community groups/organizations and visit healthcare providers to provide information on screening and treatment options.

To learn more about this prevention work or to request a training for your community group or organization, contact prevention@asac.us or call 319-390-4611. Free and confidential support and assistance for problem gambling is available by calling 1-800-BETS-OFF, by texting 1-855-895-8398, or through live chat at www.yourlifeiowa.org. More information about Problem Gambling Awareness Month can be found at www.ncpgambling.org or by visiting ASAC on Facebook.

About the Area Substance Abuse Council (ASAC)

ASAC is a community-based nonprofit organization that provides accessible, comprehensive substance use and gambling disorder prevention, treatment and recovery services in five Eastern Iowa counties (Linn, Benton, Jones, Clinton and Jackson). Learn more atwww.asac.us.

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