As the nation observes Problem Gambling Awareness Month, the Montana Department of Justice and the Montana Council on Problem Gambling are partnering once again to remind the public that help is available.

Brad Longcake is Executive Director of the Montana Council on Problem Gambling

“Our biggest issue that we face is public awareness and that’s why we’ve partnered with the Montana Department of Justice to get the message out that we do offer these services, and once a person has participated with our counselors, we will pay 100 percent of their counseling moving forward,” said Longcake. “That makes it a really good service to the citizens of Montana. At different establishments around the state, we’re handing out information that provides our toll-free contact number as well as our website, so that if you’re in a community that has our counselors, then they can reach out and make that initial contact to get the help they need.”

According to a survey in 2012, an estimated 2.2 percent of Montana adults, or approximately 17,225 individuals were believed to manifest a gambling disorder.

“Through the programs we’ve developed with the Department of Justice, we’ve been able to help about 1,700 individuals just last year in 2018,” he said. “We feel like we’re doing our part, but with more outreach and more access, the better we can reach those individuals with gambling problems.”

Longcake said there’s always the temptation that an individual will eventually beat the odds and be a big winner.

“A lot of individuals that we treat feel like they can outsmart the game or the device, and that is just not the case,” he said. “The house always has the odds and so those are the individuals who can really benefit from our counselors, just helping them walk through the scenarios and recognizing when they need to have some changes in their behavior.”

According to the Montana Department of Justice Gambling Division the state collects $60 million per year on 16,000 gambling machines throughout the state. Other forms of gambling include sports pools, raffles, Calcuttas, shake-a-day and other types of gambling. The only activities not regulated by the Department of Justice are the lottery and horse racing.

The warning signs of problem gambling include a preoccupation with gambling, a need to gamble with increasing amounts of money, and attempting to make up losses by additional gambling. Individuals who need help are encouraged to call the helpline at (888) 900-9979 or one of the Gamblers Anonymous hotlines available in Montana.

Get more details and how to get help by clicking here.