Sunday was the start of "National Problem Gambling Awareness Week." Mark Vander Linden, of the Iowa Gambling Treatment program, talked about the issue this past week at the state Racing and Gaming Commission meeting. He says last year the number of people who sought treatment for problem gambling in Iowa was 1,150.
Vander Linden says his organization tries to help those who can’t stop gambling. Vande Linden says problem gamblers suffer enormous social, economic and psychological implications that include:lost relationships, bankruptcy, extreme guilt and shame. He says the goal of the Iowa Gamble Treatment Program is that no Iowan should have to endure this.
Vande Linden credits gambling regulators and the casino operators with cooperating in training and programs to deal with problem gambling. "Iowa is credited nationally as a leader in efforts to promote responsible gambling and address problem gambling," Vande Linden says, "however, I think that if there is a finish line in this work, we haven’t reached it yet." Vande Linden encourages anyone who thinks they may have a gambling problem to call 1-800-BETS-OFF, or the Betts Off website at www.1800betsoff.org.