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Tribe partners on new program for problem gamblers

HOLLYWOOD — For those who have a gambling problem or addiction, seeking face-to-face help can be intimidating. Experts cite barriers to in-person support like cost, travel, childcare challenges, stigmatization and fears about confidentiality.

Paul Pellizzari, HRI and Seminole Gaming VP of global social responsibility. (Photo courtesy HRI)

To help people bypass those barriers, the Seminole Tribe has partnered with the Florida Council on Compulsive Gambling (FCCG) on a new support program that is online. The free online program is now available to Floridians.

“One of the big questions globally in the gambling field is: ‘Why don’t more people who experience problems seek gambling help services?’ The Florida Council’s [new program] tackles this challenge head on,” Paul Pellizzari, vice president of global social responsibility for Seminole Gaming and Hard Rock International, said in a statement.

The program consists of an eight-week online course that is accessed through the FCCG’s 24-hour helpline at (888) ADMIT-IT. It allows users to go through exercises, videos, and readings at their own pace. Throughout the process there are interactive questionnaires that provide individualized feedback from licensed mental health professionals.

Organizers said the free program is informed by research in psychology, psychiatry, mental health and problem gambling. Leading experts developed the program’s core content by incorporating interventions that are shown to help problem gamblers get on a path to recovery. The American Psychiatric Association classifies compulsive or problem gambling as a behavioral addiction and research shows the disorder is similar to substance-related disorders.

Organizers said the helpline provides other resources, too – including referrals to professional treatment services, self-help support groups, self-exclusion programs for land-based and online forms of gambling, and resources for limiting access to cash and restricting transaction permissions.

FCCG officials are expected to travel to all six of the tribe’s Florida casinos to promote the program. It’s also part of Seminole Gaming and Hard Rock International’s “PlayersEdge” program that began in 2019 – an ongoing effort to educate casino employees who interact with gamblers.

To access the new program and for other resources, contact the FCCG’s helpline by phone at (888) ADMIT-IT (888-236-4848), by text at (321) 978-0555, or via email at fccg@gamblinghelp.org. A mobile app is also available by searching “888-ADMIT-IT” on Android or Apple devices.

The tribe has had a 30-year relationship with the FCCG. More information is at gamblinghelp.org.

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Damon Scott
Damon is a multimedia journalist for the Seminole Tribune. He has previously been an editor and reporter for digital and print media in Florida and his home state of New Mexico. Send him an email at damonscott@semtribe.com.
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