March is, “Problem Gambling Awareness Month” in New Jersey, to focus on an old problem and help for those who need it.

Jeffery Beck, Clinical Coordinator for the Council on Compulsive Gambling of New Jersey says there are about 350-thousand problem gamblers in the state. He says they estimate that represents two to three percent of New Jersey’s population. This year’s campaign theme is, “anyone, anywhere, anytime can be affected by problem gambling”, and Beck says they are considered either pathological gamblers or problem gamblers because it is beginning to interfere with some aspect of their life.

Beck says they also hope to once again raise awareness of the help available to those with an addiction by calling 1-800-gambler or looking up 800gambler.org. That addiction takes on new twists these days. For example, Beck says day-trading in stocks can also take a dark, compulsive turn.

New Jersey’s Self-Exclusion Program offers individuals a tool to eliminate the financial lure of casino slot machines and table games.

“We take our responsibility very seriously when it comes to addressing compulsive gambling through the Self-Exclusion Program,” said Director of Gaming Enforcement David Rebuck. “We encourage anyone who has a problem controlling their betting habits to reach out for help and information on the self-exclusion program and treatment programs available in New Jersey.”

New Jersey’s Self-Exclusion Program was started by the Casino Control Commission in 2001. Currently, there are 1,213 persons on the self-exclusion list. A person can sign up for a minimum of one year, five years, or for life. When a person signs up for self-exclusion, the casinos must stop marketing to them, remove them from any mailing lists and stop offering complimentary goods or services, credit or check cashing privileges. If a person on the list decides to gamble anyway, they will not be able to collect any winnings or recover any losses.

This is also National Problem Gambling Awareness Week.