A report on the state Gamblers Treatment Program shows a big increase in the number of calls in the last fiscal year — but operators says it’s not a wave of new problem casino slot players. Program executive director Frank Biagoli says there’s been a 43-percent increase in the direct referral calls. He says they direct the calls to 10 local providers of treatment and he says they handled 19-hundred and 32 calls through June 30th. The state legislature approved more money for the program when it looked at expanded gambling and Biagoli attributes the jump in calls to an increased advertising budget. He says the additional money let them advertise more about the 1-800-BETS-OFF treatment line and more people sought help. Biagoli says while more people sought help, studies have indicated that the amount of problem gamblers has stayed the same. He says there seems to be about a one percent of people with a severe problem and another two percent who might not have a severe problem, but gamble enough to think they may be gambling excessively. Biagoli says treatment providers use a system that has 10 indicators to rank the severity of a person’s gambling problem. He says if people meet five or more, then they’re considered to be a pathological gambler. People who meet two three or four criteria have a “problem” gambling behavior. Biagoli says you can get help with problem gambling by calling: 1-800-BETS-OFF. Or you can surf to:www.1800betsoff.org .
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