STATE — To coincide with March being Problem Gambling Awareness Month, Maine’s Gambling Control Board is pleased to announce a new virtual program that will allow people to voluntarily exclude themselves from being able to participate in casino gambling in Maine.

Self-exclusion is an action a person can take to ban themselves from entering all casinos in Maine for one year, three years, five years, or a lifetime. Before this virtual option was made available a person would have to walk into a casino or other designated location in the community to fill out the form. Now with the virtual option, you don’t have to leave your house to register.

“Gambling can be a fun and entertaining experience for many people. But we know that it can also be harmful to some people” said Steven Silver, Chair of Maine’s Gambling Control Board. “We know right now there are some people who are struggling with problem gambling. So as a board, we wanted to make sure we have the proper resources and services in place to help our fellow Mainers.”

“The Gambling Control Board has taken a positive step to reduce the harm of gambling problems by making self-exclusion more accessible and convenient for people in the State of Maine,” said Lori Manson, Problem Gambling Services Coordinator with AdCare Educational Institute in Augusta. “Self-exclusion can be an effective way for some people who suffer from gambling problems to avoid the temptation of casino gambling.”

A recent study found that 79 percent of Mainers gambled in the past year. Two percent spent money at a casino weekly or more often. According to the National Council on Problem Gambling, one percent of U.S. adults are estimated to meet the criteria for severe gambling problems. Another two to three percent experience mild or moderate gambling problems, which means their gambling is causing problems that impact their professional and personal lives.

“Only a small percentage of people who experience gambling problems will seek help,” said AdCare’s Lori Manson. “Many people aren’t even aware that gambling can be addictive in the same way that drugs are. Research has shown that gambling disorder is like substance use disorder in the way it affects the brain and body. When I talk to people with gambling problems, they are relieved that I am not going to judge them and that I am going to help connect them to resources that can help them rebuild their lives.”

Help is Available

If gambling is causing problems for you or a loved one, you can contact Maine’s problem gambling helpline 24/7 by calling 2-1-1 or texting your zip code to 898-211. Mainers can confidentially access support groups, free online resources, and counseling services which may be provided at no cost through Maine’s Gambling Addiction Treatment Network. To access
virtual self-exclusion, contact AdCare at (207) 626-3615 ext. 20 or [email protected]

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