Wednesday, March 4, 2009

State of Georgia and Georgia State University to Promote Problem Gambling Awareness

For most, gambling can be harmless entertainment. But for others, gambling is a problem that affects their financial well-being, their jobs, and their relationships.

Georgia State University’s Pathological Gambling Intervention Project is collaborating with the Georgia Department of Human Resources and the office of Gov. Sonny Perdue to reach out to those impacted by problem gambling during National Problem Gambling Awareness Week March 1-7.

Problem gambling occurs when someone’s gambling adversely affects a person’s well-being, including relationships, family, financial standing and career. This may lead to compulsive gambling — a psychological disorder where a gambler has become preoccupied with gambling to the point that he or she has lost control over it.

The Georgia State project is promoting awareness and outreach through a video public service announcement campaign on video monitors located on MARTA trains and buses, in addition to billboards throughout metro Atlanta targeting at-risk groups, including college students, offender populations and youth.

Youth and college students represent two of the fastest growing populations of problem gamblers, said James Emshoff, director of the Georgia State Pathological Gambling Intervention Project.

“With youth, problem gambling has increased due to the prolific nature of gambling in our society, which has not only increased in terms of tolerance and acceptance, but also glorification,” Emshoff explained, noting the popularity of televised poker tournaments and its impact on American culture. “Although illegal, on-line gambling provides access for youth who are not old enough to enter casinos.

“When you see gambling on TV, you only see winners,” he explained. “Even those who ‘lose’ in televised tournaments will win at least some money, but you don't see the people who staked a lot of money in tournaments but lost it all in the early rounds before the TV coverage picks up.”
A 2007 Georgia State study by Emshoff and his research team showed that almost 88 percent of Georgia residents have gambled at least once in their lifetime; about 4 percent of adult Georgians could be considered lifetime problem or compulsive gamblers.

Other Georgia State project activities include support of college- and faith-based counseling programs, research on the gambling behavior of offenders, and collaboration with a statewide veterans’ initiative that focuses on problem gambling.

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