In cooperation with the National Council on Problem Gambling, Governor Martin O’Malley has declared March to be Responsible Gambling and Problem Gambling Awareness Month in Maryland. The public awareness campaign provides information about Maryland’s responsible gambling initiatives and resources as well as the warning signs of problem gambling.
Four casinos are open in Maryland and two more are slated to open by the end of 2016. Maryland’s casinos offer a safe and fun environment where visitors can spend discretionary entertainment funds. While the majority of the population is able to enjoy gambling in a responsible manner, approximately 3.4% of Marylanders do face some sort of gambling addiction. Though the percentage is small, the personal and financial costs of this addiction are often devastating.
Since the first casino opened in the state in 2010, the Maryland Lottery and Gaming Control Commission (MLGCC), in collaboration with other partners, has implemented programs and services to promote responsible gambling and problem gambling awareness.
The Maryland Voluntary Exclusion Program (VEP), established in 2011, allows residents to legally ban themselves from casinos and from playing Maryland Lottery games. Participants are subject to arrest for criminal trespass and fines if found on casino property and agree to forfeit their winnings if they play Maryland Lottery games.
“The Voluntary Exclusion Program is an effective tool of personal responsibility,” said Stephen Martino, Maryland Lottery and Gaming Control Agency (MLGCA) director. “The program reflects our continued commitment to promote responsible gambling.”
Another resource is the Maryland Alliance for Responsible Gambling (MARG)’s website, mdgamblinghelp.org. MARG is a statewide partnership formed in 2011 to coordinate and maximize Maryland’s resources. Its website provides information about the toll-free problem gambling helpline (1-800-522-4700), offers help finding counselors, provides statistics and advice for those affected by gambling addiction, and offers information on how to sign up for the state VEP.
“We are committed to remaining vigilant in promoting responsible gambling throughout our state, and I commend MLGCA Director Stephen Martino and his MARG colleagues for making our efforts a reality,” said Governor Martin O’Malley. “The resources available for those who suffer from gambling addiction and their families are comprehensive, easily accessible, and further illustrate the state’s commitment to the well-being of its citizens.”
The MLGCA is responsible for all matters relating to regulation of the state’s casinos. In this regulatory role, the agency oversees all internal controls, auditing, security, surveillance, background investigation, licensing and accounting procedures for the facilities. To keep Marylanders informed and maintain integrity and transparency in its regulation of the state’s casinos, the MLGCA posts monthly financial reports on casino revenue on its website, gaming.mdlottery.com.