Baton Rouge--- One of Louisiana’s most serious public health issues can be found among slot machines, lottery tickets and the bright lights of casinos. A 2002 Study of Problem Gambling conducted through the Department of Health and Hospitals, Office for Addictive Disorders estimates there are as many as 126,000 problem and pathological gamblers in Louisiana who could benefit from services aimed at curbing their addiction to gambling in any form, including card and dice games, betting on animals or sports, playing the lottery, casinos, bingo, slot/gaming machines, wagering on the stock market and pull tab/paper games.

Gov. Kathleen Babineaux Blanco has declared March 8-14 Problem Gambling Awareness Week for the State of Louisiana. The Office for Addictive Disorders, in partnership with the Louisiana Lottery and the Louisiana Association on Compulsive Gambling, will use the week to promote the different services available statewide aimed at treating gambling addictions.

“Problem gambling is both treatable and preventable,” said LDH Secretary Dr. Frederick P. Cerise. “We want to use this week make all citizens aware that there are a myriad of treatment options available in all parts of the state should they seek help for a gambling addiction.”

According to information from the Problem Gambling study, the most common form of gambling residents in the Capital Area Human Services District (Greater Baton Rouge area) practice is going to casinos. Other activities frequently mentioned by respondents were playing the lottery, slot machines and card games. Baton Rouge area callers to the Louisiana Problem Gamblers Helpline most frequently reported casino gaming as a source of problem gambling. Overall, rates of problem gambling in the Baton Rouge region were slightly higher than the statewide average.

In addition to problems among adult gamblers, five out of every six high school principals in the Greater Baton Rouge area believe their students have gambling problems, according to surveys they sent to the Office for Addictive Disorders. This number is greater than any other region of the state.

“Since the Capital Area reported the highest rates of perceived gambling problems among high school students, I hope educators will take time this week to teach students about responsible gaming habits and help them realize gambling can be as much of an addiction as alcohol or drugs,” said Assistant Secretary for the Office for Addictive Disorders Michael Duffy. “I also encourage citizens to visit www.thegamble.org, a Web site the Office for Addictive Disorders created to teach youth about the dangers of problem gambling.”

For more information on gambling treatment options in the Greater Baton Rouge area, contact the Capital Area Human Services District’s Center for Addictive Disorders at (225) 925-4093 or visit the Office for Addictive Disorders Web site, http://www.dhh.state.la.us/OADA/. Youth from the Baton Rouge area also can learn more about the dangers of problem gambling at www.thegamble.org.

Following is more specific information on other areas in the state.

New Orleans 
According to information from the Problem Gambling study, the Orleans Parish and Jefferson Parish regions have higher rates of problem and pathological gambling than any other part of the state. Residents of this region reported going to casinos more often than residents living elsewhere. They also are more likely to play slot machines than in other parts of the state.

Gambling problems in this region are not just limited to adult residents. In a survey of high school principals from Orleans, St. Bernard and Plaquemines parishes, 14 out of 18 principals believe there are gambling problems in the schools at which they operate. The two most common methods of gambling the principals reported among students were card and dice games.

“Since this area has such high rates of problem gambling, I hope citizens of the Greater New Orleans area use this week to examine their gaming habits and determine whether or not they need help to curb how often they gamble,” said Assistant Secretary for the Office for Addictive Disorders Michael Duffy.

For more information on gambling treatment options in the New Orleans area, contact the Regional Office for Addictive Disorders at (504) 568-7943 or (504) 838-5215, or visit the Office for Addictive Disorders Web site,http://www.dhh.state.la.us/OADA/. Youth from the Greater New Orleans area also can learn more about the dangers of problem gambling at www.thegamble.org.

Thibodaux 
According to information from the Problem Gambling study, the Thibodaux region has the most gambling sites per capita than any other part of the state. Gambling sites include casinos, slot machines, video poker outlets and any other areas where gambling can be practiced.

Thibodaux area callers to the Louisiana Problem Gamblers Helpline most frequently reported playing the slot machines and trips to casinos as sources of problem gambling. Overall, rates of problem gambling in the Thibodaux region matched the statewide average of 3 percent of residents.

In addition to problems among adult gamblers, area high school principals believe gambling problems occur in their schools at a slightly above average rate, according to surveys they sent to the Office for Addictive Disorders.

“I hope citizens of the Thibodaux region use this week to examine their gaming habits and determine whether or not they need help to curb how often they gamble,” said Assistant Secretary for the Office for Addictive Disorders Michael Duffy.

For more information on gambling treatment options in the Thibodaux area, contact Regional Office for Addictive Disorders at  (985) 857-3612 or visit the Office for Addictive Disorders Web site, http://www.dhh.state.la.us/OADA/. Youth from the Thibodaux area also can learn more about the dangers of problem gambling at www.thegamble.org

Lafayette
According to information from the Problem Gambling study, residents of the Lafayette region tend to play the lottery and slot machines slightly more than the state average, although they go to casinos slightly less.

Lafayette area callers to the Louisiana Problem Gamblers Helpline most frequently reported playing the slot and video gaming machines and casino trips as sources of problem gambling. According to survey results, the Office for Addictive Disorders estimates there may be as many as 23,000 pathological gamblers living in this region.

In addition to problems among adult gamblers, a majority of area high school principals believe some form of gambling problems affects their students, according to surveys they sent to the Office for Addictive Disorders.

“I hope citizens of the Lafayette region use this week to examine their gaming habits and determine whether or not they need help to curb how often they gamble,” said Assistant Secretary for the Office for Addictive Disorders Michael Duffy.

For more information on gambling treatment options in the Lafayette area, contact the Regional Office for Addictive Disorders or visit the Office for Addictive Disorders Web site, http://www.dhh.state.la.us/OADA/. Youth from the Lafayette area also can learn more about the dangers of problem gambling at www.thegamble.org

Lake Charles
According to information from the Problem Gambling study, the Lake Charles area has the highest regional average of gaming sites per capita statewide. The most common forms of gambling residents in this region reported were going to casinos, playing slot or gambling machines and playing the lottery.

Despite an abundance of casinos and gaming sites in this region, the rate of problem gambling is slightly less than the statewide average. This is a trend the Office for Addictive Disorders hopes will continue and encourages people to practice responsible gaming habits.

“I hope citizens of the Lake Charles region use this week to examine their gaming habits and determine whether or not they need help to curb how often they gamble,” said Assistant Secretary for the Office for Addictive Disorders Michael Duffy.

For more information on gambling treatment options in the Lake Charles area, contact the Regional Office for Addictive Disorders at (337) 491-2496 or visit the Office for Addictive Disorders Web site,http://www.dhh.state.la.us/OADA/. Youth from the Lake Charles area also can learn more about the dangers of problem gambling at www.thegamble.org.

Alexandria
According to information from the Problem Gambling study, the Alexandria region reports lower rates of problem gambling than the statewide average. This is most likely because there are very few legalized gaming establishments in the area.

Avoyelles Parish is the part of this region reporting the most calls to the Louisiana Problem Gamblers Helpline, as well as the most perceived problems with gambling among youth. This is most likely because Avoyelles Parish is home to one of the few legalized gaming establishments in the area, the Tunica Casino in Marksville. Virtually all Helpline callers from this region reported trips to the casino as a problem area.

“I hope citizens of the Alexandria region use this week to examine their gaming habits and determine whether or not they need help to curb how often they gamble,” said Assistant Secretary for the Office for Addictive Disorders Michael Duffy.

For more information on gambling treatment options in the Alexandria area, contact the Regional Office for Addictive Disorders at (318) 487-5191 or visit the Office for Addictive Disorders Web site, http://www.dhh.state.la.us/OADA/. Youth from the Alexandria area also can learn more about the dangers of problem gambling at www.thegamble.org.

Shreveport
According to information from the Problem Gambling study, the Shreveport region overall has the average number of gambling establishments per adult citizen when compared with the statewide totals. However, 90 percent of the gambling devices in northwestern Louisiana are located in Caddo and Bossier parishes, which have a disproportionately large per capita number. Bossier Parish has a gambling devices per adult ratio that is three times higher than any other parish in the state.

This region also accounts for the majority of calls to the Louisiana Problem Gamblers Helpline. However, this could be because the Helpline is headquartered in Shreveport, so people from this area could be more aware of it and the services it provides than citizens in other parts of the state, therefore making them more likely to call. Despite the large volume of Helpline calls, the region overall reports rates of problem and pathological gambling consistent with the state average.

“I hope citizens of the Shreveport region use this week to examine their gaming habits and determine whether or not they need help to curb how often they gamble,” said Assistant Secretary for the Office for Addictive Disorders Michael Duffy.

For more information on gambling treatment options in the Shreveport area, contact the Regional Office for Addictive Disorders at (318) 632-2040 or visit the Office for Addictive Disorders Web site,

Monroe
Overall, the Monroe region has some of the fewest gambling sites per capita of any region in the state. Also, residents of this region who did gamble were less likely to do so on a weekly basis. However, the problem gambling rates reported from this region still were slightly below the state average.

In addition to adult gamblers, principals in this region were more likely to report gambling as a problem in their schools than the statewide average.

“I hope citizens of the Monroe region use this week to examine their gaming habits and determine whether or not they need help to curb how often they gamble,” said Assistant Secretary for the Office for Addictive Disorders Michael Duffy.

For more information on gambling treatment options in the Monroe area, contact the Regional Office for Addictive Disorders at (318) 362-3270 or visit the Office for Addictive Disorders Web site, http://www.dhh.state.la.us/OADA/. Youth also can learn more about the dangers of problem gambling at www.thegamble.org.

Mandeville
Overall, problem and pathological gambling is less severe in the Mandeville region than it is in other parts of the state. St. Helena is the only parish in the area that has legalized gambling. Activities residents of this region reported gambling in differed slightly from other areas of the state. While most state residents listed casinos, slot machines and the lottery as gambling venues, residents of the Mandeville area also used those venues but were more likely to engage in other outlets, such as playing cards, bingo and betting on events involving animals.

In addition to adult gamblers, more than 75 percent of principals in the Mandeville region believe gambling is a problem among students at their schools.

“I hope citizens of the Mandeville region use this week to examine their gaming habits and determine whether or not they need help to curb how often they gamble,” said Assistant Secretary for the Office for Addictive Disorders Michael Duffy.

For more information on gambling treatment options in the Mandeville area, contact the Regional Office for Addictive Disorders at (985) 871-1383 or visit the Office for Addictive Disorders Web site, http://www.dhh.state.la.us/OADA/. Youth also can learn more about the dangers of problem gambling at www.thegamble.org.

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