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Resources for Problem Gamblers and Families Available

March 3, 2005

Bismarck, N.D. - As many as 5,200 North Dakotans are considered to be current problem gamblers, while more than 12,000 could be considered lifetime problem gamblers.

“Problem gambling in North Dakota has reached the point where we felt we needed to make some serious efforts at public awareness, especially towards those who are considered to be problem gamblers and their families and friends,” said JoAnne Hoesel, director of the Division of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services, North Dakota Department of Human Services.

“The week of March 6 is Problem Gambling Awareness Week. Our public awareness efforts include a new Web site and a new media campaign that is currently underway. Problem gamblers and their families and friends can take the first step towards getting help by either calling 2-1-1 or seeing what resources are available to them at www.gamblingnd.com,” Hoesel said.

The 2-1-1 phone number is a 24-hour helpline to talk to a crisis management specialist for referral information. The Web site provides information about what constitutes problem gambling, quizzes that can help people determine if they or someone they know has a gambling problem, and links to resources available to assist problem gamblers in North Dakota.

There are Gamblers Anonymous Support Groups throughout the state. These support groups are also open to those affected by a loved one’s gambling addiction.

“Problem gambling can ruin careers, finances, families and lives,” said Hoesel. “These resources are confidential and available at little or no cost.”

According to research, those most likely to be problem gamblers or to become problem gamblers in North Dakota are men, those aged 30-34, widowed, divorced or separated, with annual household incomes between $20,000-25,000.

The same study showed between 1,400 and 5,200 North Dakota residents aged 18 and over can be classified as current problem gamblers. Between 6,700 and 12,400 North Dakota residents aged 18 and over can be classified as lifetime problem gamblers, and between 5,700 and 11,400 North Dakotans aged 18 and over can be classified as lifetime probable pathological gamblers.

Pathological gamblers are defined as those with a continuous or periodic loss of control over gambling, who display a progression in gambling frequency and amounts wagered, are preoccupied with gambling and in obtaining monies with which to gamble, and continue to gamble despite adverse consequences. Problem gamblers have gambling-related difficulties that are less serious than those of pathological gamblers, but have patterns of gambling behavior that compromise, disrupt or damage personal and family relationships or their employment.


Don Wright, Assistant Director, Division of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services, N.D. Department of Human Services,


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