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Multi-State Summit Highlights Responsible
Gaming Month


A three-day multi-state conference on problem gambling and substance abuse and several educational exhibits will highlight Missouriís Responsible Gaming Education Month activities in August. The third annual Midwest Conference on Problem Gambling and Substance Abuse will be held Aug. 16-18 at the Hyatt Regency Crown Center in Kansas City. The conference will feature a free public presentation and panel discussion beginning at 6 p.m. on Aug. 16.

This is the eighth year the Missouri Alliance to Curb Problem Gambling has designated time to raise statewide awareness about problem-gambling issues.

"We have programs, educational exhibits and presentations throughout the year, but recognizing one month of the year as Responsible Gaming Education Month helps to put the spotlight on the seriousness of problem gambling and the variety of programs Missouri has to help problem gamblers and their families," said Joanne Collins, a member of the Port Authority of Kansas City's board of directors and chairwoman of the Alliance.

While the Alliance's primary focus is on problem gambling, members of the Alliance, including the Missouri Gaming Commission, the Missouri Gaming Association (MGA) and the Missouri Lottery, also work to educate individuals who choose to gamble on ways to participate in gambling activities responsibly.

"The vast majority of individuals who gamble do so responsibly and gamble only as a form of entertainment," said Mike Ryan, executive director of the MGA. "These individuals gamble with family members or friends. They also limit the amount of time they gamble and the amount of money they will spend.

"Keeping gambling as a game among our patrons is important to the Alliance," Ryan continued. "For some individuals, their gambling has caused serious financial and family problems. For these reasons, the Alliance members created a comprehensive program that includes education, a help line, a variety of free treatment options and research."

The Midwest Conference on Problem Gambling and Substance Abuse is drawing speakers and participants from throughout the country. Hosted by the Missouri Alliance to Curb Problem Gambling, the conference is the result of a joint endeavor by organizations throughout the five-state region Ė Missouri, Kansas, Iowa, Nebraska and Oklahoma.

"We're happy to host this conference for the third year in a row," Collins said. "It's a great opportunity for people to become better informed about problem gambling issues, and they don't have to travel across the country to do so."

Keynote speakers at this year's conference include: Dr. H. Westley Clark of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; Robert Ladouceur, professor of psychology at UniversitŤ Laval in Quebec City; and Loreen Rugle, coordinator of the Gambling Treatment Program at the Louis Stokes Department of Veteran Affairs Medical Center in Cleveland, Ohio. A number of Missouri addiction specialists also will be presenting at this year's conference. For a complete list of presenters and conference information, please visit the Alliance's Web site at: www.888betsoff.org.

Also during August, the Missouri Gaming Association (MGA) and Missouriís casino properties are participating in the ninth annual American Gaming Associationís (AGA) Responsible Gaming Education Week, Aug. 7-11. This year, employees at Missouriís casinos will participate in training to help learn to direct problem gamblers to the help line. The training is a key element of the AGA's Responsible Gaming Code of Conduct adopted two years ago by Missouriís casinos and other casino properties throughout the country. For a complete list of RGEW activities at Missouri casino properties, visit www.888BETSOFF.org.

Other Alliance activities in August include:

  • An educational exhibit at the Missouri Institute on Minority Aging at Lincoln University in Jefferson City on Aug. 3;
  • An educational exhibit and focus group presentation at the 2006 NCADA Youth Leadership Conference in St. Louis on Aug. 3-6;
  • An educational exhibit at the fall training in Osage Beach for prosecuting attorneys and their staff on Aug. 30-Sept. 1.
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Compulsive gambling is a behavior disorder in which an individual has an uncontrollable preoccupation and urge to gamble. This results in excessive gambling, the outcome of which is loss of time and money.

The gambling reaches the point at which it compromises, disrupts or destroys the gambler's personal life, family relationships or vocational pursuits. The key signs are emotional dependence on gambling, loss of control and interference with normal functioning.