The North Carolina Problem Gambling Program (NCPGP) provides and supports effective problem gambling prevention, education, outreach and treatment services throughout North Carolina.
Provide statewide treatment services, training and technical support in-person and on-line for prevention and provide education and outreach to promote awareness through media, partnerships and integration.
Improve the mental health and overall well-being of every North Carolina resident affected by problem gambling and create statewide awareness of problem gambling as an addiction.
The NCPGP is funded by the North Carolina Education Lottery and supported by the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services. The state administrator and prevention coordinator have offices in the Division of Mental Health, Developmental Disabilities and Substance Abuse Services.
Why focus on Problem Gambling?
Gambling has been around for thousands of years. Ancient Egyptians crafted dice with 20 sides and Romans held chariot races that generated large amounts of betting. Gambling was seen as a religious and ceremonial function that eventually became a recreational activity. A look at history in the United States reveals that the expansion of gambling has been followed by corruption, regulation and prohibition.
Experts believe there were three waves of gambling in the United States: establishing the colonies with lotteries, traveling west for the gold rush and Nevada legalizing casinos during the Great Depression. Despite previous challenges, today gambling is a $100 billion commercial enterprise - with legalized gambling available in every state except Utah and Hawaii.
The National Council on Problem Gambling reports that two million (one percent) of U.S. adults are estimated to be pathological gamblers in a given year. Another four to six million (two to three percent) would be considered problem gamblers not meeting the full criteria for pathological gambling but are experiencing problems due to their gambling.
Higher prevalence rates are found in those people in their teens and 20s. Further, ethnic minorities, active duty military, veterans, older adults and individuals diagnosed with a mental health or substance use disorder history have higher prevalence rates.
The rapid expansion and universal cultural acceptance of the media-glamorized commercial gambling industry has led to parents and children gambling together with little to no awareness of problem gambling as an addiction. Many do not even view it as a possible harmful activity. A 1999 Gallup Poll found that two-thirds of American adults approve of legalized gambling. It is a source of revenue for states and charities and is viewed as an economic generator for local communities. Research indicates children are engaging in gambling activities earlier than they are with drug or alcohol use. Similarly to substance use disorder, research also shows that parents with a gambling problem often have children with a gambling problem.
North Carolina began providing prevention and treatment services relating to the area of problem gambling as a legislative mandate when the North Carolina Education Lottery was created in 2005. Since the inception of the problem gambling program, thousands of problem gambling calls have been made to the helpline and thousands of teens and young adults have been exposed to prevention programs in middle schools, high schools and college and university campuses across the state. With ongoing material distribution and upcoming education and outreach endeavors, the NCPGP is dedicated to building awareness for what has been dubbed the “hidden addiction.”