On the same production set used to announce game winners, South Carolina Education Lottery officials Tuesday announced its continued campaign to counter the negative effects of gambling. The SC Lottery—via the legislature– has transferred more than $1.5 million to treat gambling addictions. Lottery Director Paula Harper Bethea says, “We take seriously our responsibility for this and intend to do everything that we can to make sure that, number one, the message gets out and number two, that we are able to offer people help when they seek it.”
Bethea says the lottery gives more than is mandated, in order to fight gambling issues. “We now put about 10 percent of all of our advertising into the “Play Responsibly” message. That’s going to increase as we move forward. We feel strongly that it’s a responsibility that we have to the people of this state. It’s above and beyond our mandate but we feel good about that.”South Carolina Department of Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse Services (DAODAS) spokesman Jimmy Mount says it’s likely that the state follows the national average of 15-20 percent of the population having gambling problems. He says the lottery is the only legal gambling organization that gives DAODAS money to help fight gambling and the only money that they get that is earmarked for gambling addiction services.
The SC Gambling Helpline number (1-877-452-5155) is on the back of each lottery ticket and on each receipt. The helpline gets 20 to 30 calls per month, but Mount says there are many people who are not being reached. “We would hope that if someone is having problems with any other type of gambling, because especially among college kids, Internet gambling is big. Sports betting: one of the other tools we are using now is advertising on radio during NASCAR races. There is a lot of gambling involved with NASCAR, surprise. And that population also does play the lottery, ” says Mount.
The lottery/DAODAS website for gambling addiction help is called PlayResponsiblySC.com