March means the madness of college basketball, the crack of the bats in baseball’s spring training and getting back outside after winter. For the video gaming industry, it means recognizing some people find playing our machines to be more than simply entertainment.
We’re using Problem Gambling Awareness Month to draw attention to the needs of players with addiction and other challenges and highlighting our partnership to help bring the state’s hotline services into the 21st Century.
Today, we’re always connected, meaning help needs to be always available. The Illinois Gaming Machine Operators Association, representing the owners and operators of the video terminals found in establishments around the state, is teaming with Morneau Shepell, the firm providing the gambling hotline for more than 20 years.
We’re underwriting an expansion of hotline services to include live chat, a “text a counselor” helpline and a motivational messaging service. The “Live Chat” services will allow persons to connect with counselors 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The texting services will allow gamblers to text a counselor anytime.
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Under the motivational messaging service, messages will be sent to consumers twice a week for 12 weeks to encourage them to resist the urge to gamble and provide tips on changing habits that could lead to a relapse.
As we get out and enjoy ourselves, think about those whose experiences go too far. Know that the IGMOA is serious about problem gambling and wanting to help, one text and live chat at a time. Visit illinoisalliance.org to learn more.
Michael Gelatka, Illinois Gaming Machine Operators Association president