The state has added a new chat feature to the 1-800-BETS-OFF website which helps problem gamblers. Eric Pruess, the administrator of the Department of Public Health’s gambling treatment program, says the chat adds another dimension to the website.

“Everyone has a different way of how they might want to reach out for help,” according to Pruess. “For some people they’re comfortable in being able to call the 1-800-BETS-OFF phone number and talking to someone one-on-one. Live chat is just another way of allowing that to happen in a different medium.”

The method of conversing is different, but Pruess says the service is the same.”The same folks who are answering the 1-800-BETS-OFF phone calls are the exact same folks who are answering the live chats as they happen,” Pruess says.

You can use the new function at The live chat button will be available on the website from 8 a.m. until 8 p.m. Monday through Friday, and clicking that button will get you immediately in touch with someone at the organization.

Pruess says you can also get information that will help you deal with someone you think may have a gambling problem. He says the BETS OFF program is for anyone who has a concern. “Whether it’s about themselves and what might be going on with their behaviors related to gambling. Or for someone who might be a loved one or concerned person who sees that a person might be struggling with what might be going on with their behaviors related to gambling,” according to Pruess.

He says while the number of problem gamblers in the state remains low, they do get many calls seeking advice. “We average anywhere between three and 400 calls a month. The average number of hits we get to the website is about 14,000 a year,” Pruess says.

Preuss says seeking out help with problem gambling is important as studies show 90-percent of those questioned said their gambling activities were much less six months after entering treatment.