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Help is available for addiction

PLUNK DOWN money to play slots at the Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs, or any other casino, and you stand to lose it – fast. That’s the risk for a slim shot at riches, and most people who visit Mohegan Sun in Plains Township limit their wagering so no harm results from their missing dollars.

Unfortunately for certain people, something other than money can get swept away: self-control.

Problem gamblers – who include men and women of all ages – easily become addicted to the thrill of slots, table games, sports betting, even lotteries. For them, the losses often are calculated not only in financial terms, but also strained relationships, constant worry and, in some cases, criminal acts.

Promoters of “Problem Gambling Awareness Week,” March 1 to 7, want to spread the message that help is available.

If you or someone you know has become preoccupied with gambling, perhaps telling lies to conceal it, call the Council on Compulsive Gambling of Pennsylvania. Its toll-free number is 1-800-848-1880. Likewise, information on Gamblers Anonymous and other programs available in Luzerne and Wyoming counties is available from Help Line, a 24-hour crisis intervention and referral service. Call 1-888-829-1341.

Gamblers also can participate in the state’s Self-Exclusion Program, which seeks to limit their access and temptation to gamble at Pennsylvania casinos. People in this program voluntarily ban themselves from casino gaming; violators of the ban can be arrested and charged with trespass. (For details, go to this Web address: www.pgcb.state.pa.us. Click on “Gaming” and “Compulsive & Problem Gambling.”)

Since the program began in late 2006, about 580 people have registered. The group is composed of slightly more women than men. They range in age from 21 to 81.

Don’t be embarrassed to admit you have a problem. Get help today.

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