Years in the making, NCPG has recently leased 1-800-GAMBLER as the new nationwide helpline number. With the significant increase in sports betting, it makes sense to use one number in the often-small amount of advertising space. While some states mandate that their own state helpline be included in any advertising that crosses their borders, Minnesota does not mandate the exclusive use of 1-800-333-HOPE. MNAPG agrees with this approach for sports betting. MNAPG will continue to use the Minnesota helpline number in its brochures and in-state only ads. Either way, the caller will be directed to the Minnesota vendor who handles the helpline. Until Minnesota decides to discontinue the HOPE number, MNAPG will support use of both numbers.
NCPG’s national conference will take place in our nation’s capital in July. MNAPG will again offer scholarships to approved problem gambling counselors if they have joint memberships with MNAPG and NCPG. The scholarship will cover up to $1,000 for attending either the in-person event in Washington, D.C., July 27-28 or the online pre-conference workshops the afternoons of June 14 and 15. Advocacy Day (see article in this issue of Northern Light) will be July 26 for those who want to connect with their congressional representatives. More information on the scholarship can be obtained by contacting sstucker@mnapg. org. Conference information can be found at https://www.ncpgambling.org/nationalconference/2023-2/.
Needless to say, we live in a world where texting seems the preeminent form of communication. So why shouldn’t it play an important role in helping someone with a gambling problem.
Now, in Minnesota, it does. LifeWorks, which manages the Minnesota Problem Gambling Helpline, now offers a service called Encourage Me that consists of motivational text messaging.
Encourage Me motivational text messaging is offered to both gamblers and affected others in both English and Spanish. Messages are sent twice each week for three months and are tailored to fit into the client’s stage of change, as clients require a different type of information and support in each stage. The messages provide both information about gambling and problem gambling, encouragement to change, and tips and suggestions on how to make the changes they want to make.
“We realize that some people may just be thinking about changing, while others need maintenance during the recovery period,” says Ashley Trantham, Manager of Customer Success at LifeWorks. Motivational messaging is offered as a supplemental treatment tool and isn’t meant to be a substitute for counseling.
Here are some questions and answers about Encourage Me:
· The program was developed using research from successful healthcare-related texting programs such as smoking cessation, weight loss, and medication management.
· Text messages have a 98% open rate vs. a 20% open rate for emails.
· Text messages can be opened at any time that is most convenient to the user.
· Available on almost every model of mobile phone.
· Provides a reminder that someone cares.
· Reminds the user that help is available.
Is it effective?
Yes! Outcome surveys are conducted at the conclusion of the texts and in the first year, 86% of survey responses indicated that receiving a text message every week helped keep them focused and working on their goals about gambling. Example comment: “I have not gambled since calling the helpline and found the text messages helpful for reinforcement, reminding me to focus on my goal of not gambling.”
Examples of texts
Contemplation: Consider changing your thoughts from “I have to stop gambling” to “I want to stop gambling” Preparation: You have made significant progress by just acknowledging that gambling is no longer fun. You’re on the right path. Action: Today is the day to be good to yourself. Take a walk, enjoy the warmth of the sun, or give yourself the gift of feeling good about managing your gambling. Maintenance: Take the time to review and modify your goals and plans for recovering from problem gambling. Stay active in your recovery!
Can a person enroll more than once?
How do I enroll a client?
Clients are offered Encourage Me messages as a standard part of their call to the Problem Gambling Helpline. If your client has not yet enrolled, you can enroll them by calling the helpline together or recommending that they contact the Helpline themselves. Curious? You can call and sign yourself up, too!
The National Council on Problem Gambling (NCPG) has entered into a six-year license agreement with the Council on Compulsive Gambling of New Jersey, Inc. (CCGNJ) for the use of their 1-800-GAMBLER® federally registered service mark in all U.S. states outside of New Jersey, as well as all U.S. territories and the District of Columbia.
This builds on NCPG’s multi-year National Problem Gambling Helpline Modernization Project. The project, supported by a grant from the National Football League Foundation in 2021, will improve call center technology, data collection and reporting, as well as upgrade criteria and offer standardized training and certification for call centers across the National Problem Gambling Helpline Network.
“The Modernization Project will allow us to make significant improvements to the operations, technology and infrastructure of the network to keep up with the ever-growing need for problem gambling resources,” said Keith Whyte, executive director of NCPG.
So what does this mean for Minnesota’s helpline? Once a helpline is well established, it’s important to keep the helpline number. “One never wants to be in a situation when someone in need calls a helpline number and finds it’s been disconnected,” says Susan Sheridan Tucker, MNAPG executive director.
While the Minnesota Department of Human Services will ultimately make the decision, MNAPG will recommend continued use of 1-800-333-HOPE in all in-state publications, brochures, etc. However, when the day comes that sports betting is approved, MNAPG will advise that the 1-800-GAMBLER number be used, especially with regard to intrastate games and advertising. The use of one number will also help in the production of ads that often have to include several state helpline numbers when the ad audience is multi-state. Use of 1-800-GAMBLER would enable anyone from anywhere to call one number and be directed to their specific state helpline (if the state has its own vendor, like Minnesota).
The one aspect that will add another step is if someone purchased their cell number in one state and is currently calling from another state, their call will be directed to the state covering the originating area code. This is true for every helpline in the nation except for 911. Federal legislation must be passed in order for this technological change to happen. Until then, NCPG will work to improve its warm transfers when this situation arises.
The gambling landscape continues to shift quickly, as new types of gambling and gaming activities proliferate. Those working in prevention, treatment and research need to understand and be responsive to these changes.
This year’s conference, which will be offered in person and online, will cover a variety of topics with two presentation tracks, one geared toward treatment professionals and another for a more general audience. The full conference will be recorded, so whether you join us in person or online, you won’t miss any of our content. CEUs will be offered.
Who Should Attend?
The conference is appropriate for many people, including:
Gambling, alcohol and drug addiction counselors and therapists
Other health care and social service workers
Law enforcement officers
School and church leaders
Lawyers and financial professionals
People in recovery and their families
Gaming operators and regulators
Behavioral health researchers
CEU credits are available from various professional boards.
Programs and Speakers
While conference details are still falling into place as of this writing, here are some of the programs and speakers that will be part of the conference:
“Problem Gambling and Alexithymia: Implications for Interviewing, Screening, and Intervention,” presented by Jerrod Brown, Ph.D., Pathways of St. Paul.
“Gambling Disorders in a New Era of Gambling,” presented by Jody Bechtold, LCSW, ICGC-II, BACC, CGT, CEO of The Better Institute.
“How Can We Move Forward with Cultural Humility/DEI Absent a Strategic Plan? What’s Your Navigation System?” presented by Deborah Haskins, Ph.D., LCPC, board-approved supervisor, MAC, ICGC-II, CCGSO, BACC, CGT, President, Maryland Council on Problem Gambling.
“Sports Betting Integrity and Today’s Student Athlete,” presented by Dan Trolaro, MS, Vice President of Prevention, Epic Risk Management.
“Emergence of Problem Gambling from Childhood to Emerging Adulthood: A Systematic Review,” presented by Dr. Serena King, L.P., Professor and Chair, Psychology of Hamline University.
What: MNAPG annual conference
Heritage Center of Brooklyn Center and virtually
October 25 (for in person)
November 10 (for Zoom)