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Free gambling screening available through Problem Gamblers Help Network of WV

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — While National Problem Gambling Awareness Month officially ends today, help for residents concerned about their gambling continues throughout the year.

The Problem Gamblers Help Network of West Virginia (PGHNWV),  a statewide problem gambling treatment group, is urging residents to get screened if they have ever been concerned about their gambling. PGHNWV, which operates the 1-800-GAMBLER helpline, says free screening is available 24/7 by calling the helpline or visiting the website. The group also offers information and guidance for those who are concerned that their loved ones are problem gamblers.

Although the helpline has taken more than 13,000 calls from West Virginians seeking help, Communications Director Sheila Moran says there are far more people who need help but are not asking for it.

“About 1 percent of the population has a serious gambling addiction, and another 2-3 percent show signs of a gambling problem. That means there are thousands of people in West Virginia who still need help.” She said there are nine symptoms of problem gambling, but they offer a simple two-question screen that usually predicts who needs to seek treatment. She said “We like talking to folks on the phone, but for those who want to take the first step online, we offer the screening as well as the ability to chat online.”

Moran says that most helpline callers tend to be middle-aged, and most are addicted to slots or video poker machines. However, studies show that many young people are addicted to gambling, and online gambling or casino table games are very popular among them. She said, “We know there are many young people gambling, especially on games like fantasy sports, but they aren’t calling us. They are more likely to use our online screening tools.”

Callers to 1-800-GAMBLER speak with a helpline counselor based in Charleston, and they are referred to one of the network’s 50+ specially trained gambling addiction counselors and/or a support group. They receive a free two-hour consultation. Funds are available for those who do not have insurance to pay for additional treatment. Follow-up studies with helpline callers show that the majority of callers are able to stop gambling within six months of entering treatment.

More information is available by calling 1-800-GAMBLER or visiting


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