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What role do friends and family members have in helping problem gamblers get the help they need to stop gambling? Carol O'Hare, a recovering compulsive gambler and executive director of the Nevada Council on Problem Gambling, provided insight into the impact friends and family can have on problem gamblers during a special Alliance presentation on Aug. 20. The event, which was free and open to the public, was held at the University of Missouri-St. Louis' Millennium Center in Conference Halls A and B.

O'Hare, who also is the executive vice president of the National Council on Problem Gambling, told her own story about being a compulsive gambler and how her addiction impacted her job, her friends and her family. She also provided suggestions to help family and friends of compulsive gamblers deal with the addiction.

O'Hare became the executive director of the Nevada Council on Problem Gambling in April 1996. She is a frequent speaker at industry conferences, training seminars and public forums at both the state and national level. She has been a member of the Board of Directors of the National Center for Responsible Gaming since July 1996 and in January 2000 was elected to serve as the executive vice president of the National Council on Problem Gambling.

In her personal life, O'Hare continues to be an active member of a problem gambling support group through which she has maintained her own recovery from gambling addiction since January 1991.

If you have questions about O'Hare's presentation or need additional information, please e-mail betsoff@molottery.com.

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If you feel you or someone you know has a gambling problem, call

Your toll-free call to 1-888-BETSOFF can put you in touch with people who understand your situation and can refer you to free treatment in your area.

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.