Maine Gambling Control Board unveils new virtual self-exclusion program

Published: Mar. 10, 2023 at 2:25 PM EST
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AUGUSTA, Maine (WABI) - March is Problem Gambling Awareness Month.

A recent study found 79% of Mainers gambled in the past year.

Maine’s Gambling Control Board is rolling out a new virtual program designed to help people voluntarily exclude themselves from being able to participate in casino gambling in the state.

“Casinos have seen the highest revenue in years since the shut down in 2020, generating a lot of new tax revenue, and it tells me that the vast majority of Mainers can have fun in our casinos without developing any sort of problem, but you cannot ignore the ones that do,” said Steven Silver, Chair of Maine’s Gambling Control Board.

Self-exclusion is not new to Maine. It’s an action a person can take to ban themselves from entering all casinos in the state for a specific period.

It could be for one year, three years, five years, or a lifetime.

Maine’s Gambling Control Board is now making it easier and more convenient for people to voluntarily self-exclude themselves from being able to participate in casino gambling by unveiling a new virtual program.

“It seems silly in 2023 to celebrate that, but we were not doing it here in Maine. Now, you don’t have to go to a casino to self-exclude or to get that help. You can do it from the comfort of your own home with a trained counselor,” Silver said.

“To be able to self-exclude from their home in ten or fifteen minutes, just using their laptop or tablet, or even in certain situations their phone, that can be very helpful for some people. Since they’re going to be able to talk to the Problem Gambler Services’ Coordinator who is most up to date with what is going on, they can get some resources right then and there on the spot that are personalized to them,” explained Lori Manson, Problem Gambling Services Coordinator with AdCare Educational Institute in Augusta.

According to the National Council on Problem Gambling, one percent of U.S. adults are estimated to meet the criteria for severe gambling problems.

Another two or three percent experience mild or moderate gambling problems, which means it is likely impacting their professional and personal lives.

“We’ve seen really bad horror stories of people draining their savings accounts, ending up in divorce, straining family relationships, where it is just an inability to control the amount that you’re spending and the amount of time that you’re in those facilities,” Silver said.

“Research does show that the way gambling can impact the body in some people is exactly the same way that alcohol and drugs do,” said Manson. “We want to be sure that they realize that in Maine we do have counseling available for people with gambling problems. For people who can’t afford to pay, that treatment can be free.”

If gambling is causing problems for you or a loved one, you can contact Maine’s problem gambling helpline 24/7 by calling 2-1-1 or texting your zip code to 898-211. Mainers can confidentially access support groups, free online resources, and counseling services which may be provided at no cost through Maine’s Gambling Addiction Treatment Network. To access virtual self-exclusion, contact AdCare at (207) 626-3615 ext. 20 or