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The nonprofit Council on Compulsive Gambling of New Jersey (CCGNJ) is preparing to observe Problem Gambling Awareness Month in March with a full calendar of activities centered on prevention and treatment.

This year the CCGNJ  has adopted the theme of “Be Informed, Be Empowered” with a particular focus on the growing risks of gambling issues arising from online betting.

“March brings the change of seasons but is also deeply identified with the annual NCAA basketball tournament known as March Madness,” said CCGNJ Executive Director Felicia Grondin. “For people with a gambling problem or in recovery from this addiction, March Madness is rife with temptation. With online gambling platforms, access to betting is at everyone’s fingertips 24/7.”

CCGNJ has dedicated itself to shine a spotlight on problem gambling and ensure there are sufficient resources and services for the growing number of New Jersey residents who need them. During March, the council will conduct in-person and virtual forums that identify the early signs of problem gambling and explore which gambling platforms present the greatest threat to different demographic groups.

With the advent of online and sports betting in New Jersey, gambling access is accessible around the clock. For a person in recovery from a gambling problem, carrying a smartphone can be akin to an alcoholic holding a bottle of vodka all day because temptation is always at their fingertips, CCNJ said.

Gambling in New Jersey has surged in just the past few years. In 2019, the amount of legal sportsbook bets placed on the NFL Super Bowl was $35 million. Last month, Super Bowl wagering in New Jersey totaled nearly $144 million. CCGNJ said that March Madness will result in a similar spike in sports betting.

“The CCGNJ wants those who are struggling with a gambling problem to know that help is available to them and their families,” Ms. Grondin stated. “Our helpline, 1-800-GAMBLER, operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

“Our representatives provide a compassionate, listening ear and information about problem gambling, virtual and in-person Gamblers Anonymous and Gam-Anon meetings, gambling self-exclusion, treatment provider referrals and a great deal more,” Grondin said.

If you or someone you know may have a gambling problem, please visit www.800gambler.org  or call 1-800-GAMBLER.