Gambling addiction is not new in Oregon. An estimated 2.7 percent of the State's population identify as having struggled with the issue at some point. For the first time, the U.S. government is bringing attention to the subject by highlighting March as Problem Gambling Awareness Month. That may be due to the millions of people filling out brackets for the NCAA's basketball tournament. Julie Hynes is Lane County's Gambling Prevention Coordinator. She says March Madness can exacerbate problems for recovering gamblers, but it's usually not an issue for the average person.
Hynes: "But it is something that we definitely focus attention on because we might notice around people us that are spending too much time, too much money, on March Madness. But typically when we look at the average problem gambler, they are more likely to be interested more in video poker, video slot machines."
Hynes says 9 out of 10 people who identify as problem gamblers play video lottery machines in Oregon. Lane County is hoping to raise awareness during March by hosting a young adult video contest and a middle school art search. There are also more public service announcements to spread the word about treatment programs.
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