The New Jersey Casino Control Commission on Wednesday recognized March as Problem Gambling Awareness Month and urged those facing gambling addiction to seek help through the state’s resources, including the 800-GAMBLER 24-hour help line.

Officials said the month is intended to raise awareness of problem gambling as a public health issue.

“One of the unintended side effects of gambling is pathological or compulsive gambling. All of us who make our livings from the existence of gambling here have to be concerned about people who cannot gamble responsibly,” Commission Chairman Matthew Levinson said.

The Council on Compulsive Gambling of New Jersey sponsors Problem Gambling Awareness Month each year and provides assistance to problem gamblers. The council has made a number of presentations this month and will be at the Governor’s Council on Alcohol and Drug Abuse in Trenton to give a presentation on gambling addiction.

“What we want people to remember is that there is hope. There is help,” said Donald Weinbaum, executive director of the Council on Compulsive Gambling. “March is a great time to talk about the invisible addiction, to focus a lens on it and bring the discussion into public attention.”

The New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement offers a self-exclusion program that allows problem gamblers to ban themselves from Atlantic City casinos. Casinos must cease marketing to individuals on the list.

With the launch of Internet gambling in November, the division modified the self exclusion program, allowing individuals to opt to exclude themselves from Internet gambling only or from both Internet and land-based gambling.

Locally, AtlantiCare Behavioral Health sites in Atlantic City, Egg Harbor Township and Hammonton will provide free screenings for those who schedule appointments by calling 609-645-9159. All sites will also distribute compulsive gambling literature.

Contact Jennifer Bogdan:

609-272-7239

@ACPressJennifer on Twitter

Senior copy editor for the Press of Atlantic City. Have worked as a reporter, copy editor and news editor with the paper since 1985. A graduate of the University of Delaware.