From the Executive Director of the Massachusetts Council on Compulsive Gambling
Prior to 1983, the year a gentleman in recovery established the Mass. Council, there were no funded problem gambling services or organized efforts on behalf of people with gambling disorders, their family members and the professionals who serve them in Massachusetts. Since then we’ve been the only organization to serve that purpose. We have answered tens of thousands of calls on our 24-hour Helpline, trained thousands of clinicians, provided hundreds of programs and conferences about problem gambling, and advocated to the state legislature for responsible public policy as it relates to gambling, and for services to help those affected by the disorder.
In November 2011 legislation was passed to expand gambling by allowing the development of three casinos and one slots parlor in the Commonwealth. This is an area where we advocated for strong problem gambling provisions—from intervention and treatment centers at the casinos to expansive research on the topic. As we move into an uncertain future regarding the impact of expanded gambling (including Internet gambling) upon the individuals of Massachusetts, the Council feels that now, more than ever, it is imperative that we build upon the success of our programs.
This means, that we are strengthening our current programs and developing new systems that build the capacity of the prevention, intervention and treatment systems in Massachusetts so that we may continue to provide a voice and services to those whose personal struggles with this disease often go unnoticed and unheard.
Some of these projects will include:
- Expanding regional professional training opportunities for clinicians
- Offering a weekend retreat for people in early recovery
- Data collection and data dissemination projects
- Building the capacity of emergency clinical response teams and training new clinical professionals
- Prevention programs for populations at high risk for developing problems with gambling
- Expanded promotion of our Helpline and online chat services
In conclusion, the Council will continue to build on its 30 year history with innovative programming across the Commonwealth. And it is pleased to do this in partnership with entities such as the Massachusetts Gaming Commission. From holding public educational forums to holding potential developers to high standards of responsibility, the Commissioners’ transparency and their dedication to learning about the potential impact of gambling in the Commonwealth has been admirable. We are hopeful that under their leadership, that current services will be strengthened and that strong provisions will be made to help people experiencing problems with the disorder.
For more information about the work of the Massachusetts Council on Compulsive Gambling, please visit our website at www.masscompulsivegambling.org or call me at 617-426-4554.
MGC guest blogger, Marlene D. Warner, has been with the Massachusetts Council on Compulsive Gambling since 2001, serving first as Program Director and later became Executive Director in 2011.