For many of us, gambling is looked at as just harmless fun. The unpredictability of winning bets and money is what makes it exciting. Plus, the social attitude toward gambling is becoming much more relaxed; however, that doesn’t mean gambling is less likely to become a problem.

In fact, according to, rates of gambling addiction are growing. Fortunately, gambling awareness in PA is getting more and more attention, but two of the biggest issues still affecting problem gamblers today are:

  1. Being able to recognize they have a problem.
  2. Locating the proper treatment programs that are available.

Gambling Addiction Programs: “Effective & They Do Work.”

Robert Grove is a recovering problem gambler who recently spoke at an event in Pennsylvania to kick off March as National Problem Gambling Awareness Month.

“My history with gambling spanned over 30 years, and it wasn’t until 2014 until I acknowledged I had a problem. The challenge was I didn’t know how to stop or if there was help available.” Robert continued. “I sought out a professional counseling service, however this service did not specialize in problem gambling. The non-specialized counseling I was provided proved to be unsuccessful. Eventually my efforts would fail and over the next 5 years I continued down the same road.”

Knowing where to look: “I found the right support”

It wasn’t until Robert realized there were programs that specialized in problem gambling, you just have to know where to look. The NCPG provides a list of treatment centers that have voluntarily applied to be listed on the NCPG website. That means they offer help specific to those with gambling addiction issues. Although it’s not a complete list, these treatment centers, in particular, have been approved for listing by the National Council of Problem Gambling website.

Thanks to the Department of Drug & Alcohol Programs in PA, you can also find a list of treatment centers in Pennsylvania that specialize in problem gambling.

“I was handed a business card for a counseling service that specialized in problem gambling.” Robert stated. “This service would be provided to me at no cost. As a result of a highly successful statewide self-exclusion program and specialized therapy sessions, I would later go on to self exclude to three additional neighboring states to Pennsylvania. Today I’m proud to say I’ve been in active recovery and absent from the bet for well over two years.”

Although Robert eventually got the help he needed to properly recover, he did hit a few snags along the way.

Robert goes on to say: “I spent many years seeking help. I only acheived success when I found the right support. There are a host of programs and options available for anyone struggling. 24-hour hotlines, chatrooms, professional counseling services, self exclusion programs and other 3rd party financial & legal services available.”

“Problem gamblers are not alone”

Thanks to advocates like Robert and organizations like the NCPG, people are more aware than ever when it comes to problem gambling. Fortunately, as gambling awareness in PA continues to grow, additional resources are built to take the guesswork out of finding the exact type of help needed.

“Problem gamblers are not alone in their struggle.” Robert continued. “There is an abundance of help available if you know where to look. It’s OK to reach out for help. It’s OK to call a hotline. Based on my experience, I can confidently report that these programs are effective and they do work.”

Where to Look: Free Recovery Programs in Pennsylvania

The (CCGP) Council on Compulsive Gambling of Pennsylvania, Inc., is a nonprofit organization that is also affiliated with the National Council on Problem Gambling. They offer free educational resources that provide help in the areas of prevention and/or treatment of problem gambling.

  • Gambling Awareness in PA: Free Helping –
    • 24-hour helping by phone, text, or live chat
  • Gambling-specific clinical workshops and community outreach events.
  • Provide a variety of video and audio recordings that cover many issues, such as mental health issues, financial instability, child welfare situations, and much more.

Problem Gambling: Easy to Deny, Not Easy to Recognize

The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board website offers a variety of solid resources to help recognize a possible gambling problem. This is important, especially to those who may not feel confident in taking the next steps to recovery.

PGCB “Signs of Problem Gambling” List

  • Being preoccupied with gambling
  • Feeling restless and irritable when not gambling
  • Increasing bets to increase gambling excitement
  • Lying or getting defensive about gambling
  • Gambling to escape problems
  • Risking your job, relationships and freedom

Free NCPG Gambling Awareness Screening Tool

The National Council on Problem Gambling (NCPG) actually provides a free screening toolkit for those who want to learn more about their own specific issues with gambling and the best treatments based on their situations.

The NCPG Screening Tools are completely free and offer a variety of self-assessment quizzes and self-help evaluations.

Featured image credit: PAcast