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The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) Office of Problem Gambling’s (OPG) fifth annual training summit will focus on innovative treatment methods for this disease and educating the public about its warning signs.

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“Educating and Effectuating Change”, set for March 3 – 4, 2014, at the DoubleTree Berkeley-Marina Hotel, will kick off National Problem Gambling Awareness Month, as designated by the National Council on Problem Gambling. It’s estimated that one of every 30 people in California is affected by problem gambling.

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This no-cost event is open to the public. It brings together nationally known experts in mental health and recovery. Also attending will be representatives from health care, government, nonprofit organizations, law enforcement and the gambling industry. 

Special guests include a woman who spent time behind bars because of her gambling addiction, and a former attorney who lost his license as a result of problem gambling.

Keynote speakers include Dr. Timothy Fong, co-director and associate clinical professor of the UCLA Gambling Studies Program, who will review the clinical and research issues related to the common occurrence of nicotine dependence and gambling disorder. Dr. Rory Reid, also of the UCLA Gambling Studies Program will talk about assessing and treating gamblers with Adult Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and Dr. Jim Kooler, administrator of the California Friday Night Live Partnership, will talk about a youth-led and youth-driven prevention program, “Betting on our Future.”

March is also known for the NCAA basketball tournament, the second largest annual sports betting event. In 2012, nearly 4,300 people called the 1-800-GAMBLER helpline for gambling addiction. While betting on sports is an illegal activity in California, more than 100 callers to the helpline said their primary gambling preference was sports betting.

The CDPH Office of Problem Gambling is responsible for developing prevention and treatment programs to reduce the prevalence of problem and pathological gambling among California residents. Funding for this program comes from the Indian Gaming Special Distribution Fund.

If you or someone you know needs help with problem gambling call 1-800-GAMBLER (1-800-426-2537) or visit OPG’s website to view a self-help workbook and other information about responsible gambling. The website includes a short quiz to help you identify problem-gambling behavior.

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