The following are frequently asked questions (FAQs) about problem gambling and the Massachusetts Council on Compulsive Gambling
What is problem gambling? Problem gambling is the term used to cover the entire range of harmful gambling involvement. That is, gambling that results in some kind of negative impact on the person's life or on the lives of the gambler's family, friends, co-workers. It can be an occasional impact or an ongoing situation. The most serious form of problem gambling is pathological gambling, the essential feature of which is "persistent and recurrent maladaptive behavior that disrupts personal, family or vocational pursuits." (American Psychiatric Association, DSM-IV)
Are the Massachusetts Council on Compulsive Gambling and Gamblers Anonymous the same organization? Although the Massachusetts Council on Compulsive Gambling and Gamblers Anonymous share some common goals, the two organizations are not formally connected. Gamblers Anonymous (GA) is a 12-Step Self-Help Group dedicated to helping people with gambling problems. Other self-help groups that the Council often refers Helpline callers to are Bettors Anonymous and Gam-Anon (for family and friends of compulsive gamblers). For more information and a list of meeting times, please click on the appropriate link.
Will anyone else ever find out that I called the Council Helpline? The Helpline and all contact with the Council is strictly confidential. This means:
Callers may discuss their gambling problems with a helpline specialist without identifying themselves
If a caller does identify himself or herself, personal, individual, identifying information is never released without the written consent of the caller
Information may be shared with other Mass. Council staff for the purpose of assuring quality service, but does not extend to staff's family members, friends and others not involved with the business of the Helpline
Helpline specialists will not inform any caller about another caller. Therefore, confidentiality is maintained from callers' family members, friends and others
Any notes, records, etc., with identifying information, will not be left where they are available to anyone not involved with the Helpline. Written materials with identifying information will be shredded.
How is the Council funded? Since 1987, the Massachusetts Legislature has made a commitment to responsible gambling-related public policy for the Commonwealth and ensured that funding from the Massachusetts State Lottery is allocated to provide compulsive gambling education and treatment. These funds are managed by the Department of Public Health/Bureau of Substance Abuse Services. In addition, the Council accepts private donations and charitable trusts and bequests, and has received project-specific grants from private organizations and companies.
Do problem gamblers or their family members receive treatment at the Council? While the Council listens to callers concerns about problem gambling and provides information and referrals to self-help groups and treatment sites, it does not provide counseling. Treatment is available at statewide DPH/BSAS Outpatient Treatment Centers and through private practice clinicians. (In a survey conducted in 2001, eleven out of thirteen health insurance companies in Massachusetts covered all treatment services requested for clients with gambling problems. Through funding from the MA Department of Public Health, treatment is available for people who do not have insurance coverage or finances to pay for treatment out of pocket.
Does the Council support or oppose gambling? The Council neither supports nor opposes gambling. It recognizes that most people gamble for entertainment, and do so with minimal interruption to their lives. However, it also recognizes that there are those for whom gambling becomes extremely problematic.
Below, please find direction to our office. We highly recommend public transportation, as parking is very difficult throughout the financial district. The Mass. Council on Compulsive Gambling is located on the fifth floor of 190 High Street, Boston, MA 02110 (phone: 617-426-4554). Should visitors need to use our wheelchair lift, please use the intercom located right outside the front door) and we will be happy to assist you.
Public Transportation: The MBTA stops closest to the office are South Station, Government Center, State or Aquarium. There are also bus lines that run near the office. To find the most efficient route via public transportation, please refer to www.mbta.com. (Back to top)