In today’s blog post, Jim Maney speaks about problem gambling in New York State, the mission and work of New York Council on Problem Gambling (NYCPG) and what you can do to help reduce problem gambling in your community.
Hi Jim! Can you introduce yourself and your role?
My name is Jim Maney, and I’m the executive director of NYCPG. My role is focused on fulfilling the mission of the Council, which is to raise public awareness about problem and compulsive gambling as well as the availability and greater need for problem gambling services for gambling addicts.
What are your responsibilities at NYCPG?
Gambling is a very complex issue in New York, and it’s my role to make sure that everyone understands the correlation between gambling and problem gambling. We understand that gambling opportunities will continue to expand and be promoted, and we understand that some communities rely on these gambling venues. It’s our job to make sure that we talk about problem gambling just as much as we do gambling in general.
NYCPG is governed by a Board of Directors, is an affiliate of National Council on Problem Gambling and is contracted with OASAS to raise awareness about problem gambling. We work with everyone, from lawmakers and community groups to prevention experts and treatment providers. We speak with anyone interested in learning about problem gambling.
In addition, we make tremendous efforts with local and statewide media outlets to increase media attention about problem gambling. We want to make sure that, just as often as we’re talking about gambling, we’re also mentioning problem gambling, prevention efforts and available help.
How does NYCPG work to raise awareness about problem gambling and help available for those struggling with addiction?
We have a series of mini-grants with providers throughout the state of New York. These local organizations are able to spread the word about problem gambling in their own communities by speaking with schools, constituents, community groups, senior centers and more. They raise awareness through everything from presentations in schools to ads and articles in newspapers.
Who does NYCPG work with nationally to provide support to problem gamblers and raise awareness about problem gambling?
We’re affiliated with the National Council on Problem Gambling, so we have relationships with councils throughout the rest of the country. We’ll be working with Massachusetts and New Jersey, because these states have similar populations, problem gambling concerns and central issues, such as recent casino expansion or needing funding for treatment centers.
Does NYCPG provide programs or information for people interested in learning more about treating gambling addiction?
We do not do any face-to-face counseling with problem gamblers, but we work with clinicians throughout the state to increase their skills and training, which in turn prepares them better to serve problem gamblers in their own communities.
What trends are you seeing in gambling right now?
We know that with more opportunities to gamble and more availability of physical places in which gambling occurs, more people are going to have challenges. That’s why when we talk about expansion of gambling in the news now, we must interject the importance of talking about problem gambling.
We know online gambling is increasing every day, and that’s a concern for our young kids who have access to the Internet. While people of all ages gamble, it’s especially important to keep our kids safe. The younger it starts, the more potential there is for a problem to develop.
We also see the major trend of sports betting. It’s very common to bet on the Super Bowl and March Madness. We’re working on raising awareness about the dangers of that.
If someone wants to get involved and be a part of raising awareness about problem gambling, what can they do?
We look at problem gambling as a public health issue. It affects all of us, it’s ugly and it’s devastating to the individuals and loved ones associated.
We need your help to raise awareness. We don’t want problem gambling to exist in our communities, and we need you to be aware of and educate others about the risks of gambling, the warning signs of addiction and the consequences. We need to protect our kids by not introducing them to gambling at school raffles or with birthday scratch-off tickets and by talking to them about how we feel about gambling.
If more people raise awareness in small settings – with their families, church groups, organizations – it will make a difference, and we’ll all do a better job keeping people safe from addiction.