First of its Kind Collaboration Launches Safe Start for Saratoga Track Season
With one week to go before the kickoff of the Saratoga Racing meet, state and local leaders today reminded New Yorkers about their responsibility to prevent access to gambling for youth under the age of 18. This public collaboration is a first of its kind, bringing together the gaming industry, state and local agencies, and prevention service providers to highlight the efforts for the prevention of underage gambling and to spread the message that gambling is a risky behavior for youth.
Gambling problems are significant among the youth in New York state, according to state officials. A 2008 school survey conducted by New York State Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services (OASAS) found that 48 percent of students in grades 7-12 had gambled within the past year. In Saratoga County, 49 percent of youth in grades 7-12 have gambled in the past year. In a previous study conducted by OASAS in 2006, 10 percent of youth had problems with gambling and another 10 percent were at risk for developing a problem. Males were four times as likely as females to experience a problem.
Gathered today to discuss their prevention efforts were: Karen M. Carpenter-Palumbo, OASAS Commissioner; Stacy Harvey, Assistant Counsel, State Racing and Wagering Board; Jim Murphy, Saratoga County District Attorney; Jim Maney, Executive Director, New York Council on Problem Gambling; Heather Kisselback, Executive Director, Alcohol and Substance Abuse Prevention Council of Saratoga County; and Charles Wheeler, Facilities Manager of the Saratoga Race Course, NY Racing Association.
OASAS Commissioner Karen M. Carpenter-Palumbo said, “One million New Yorkers suffer from a gambling problem including 10 percent of New York’s youth in grades 7-12. Public awareness and prevention are the first steps to keeping our youth safe from the consequences associated with problem gambling. I am pleased to be part of this partnership – working together we can spread the message to all New Yorkers that underage gambling is illegal in New York and we all have an obligation to help our youth make sound healthy choices.”
New York State Racing and Wagering Board Chairman John D. Sabini said, “We know from surveys that many underage persons are introduced to gambling by parents or an adult close to them. The Racing and Wagering Board stands ready to work closely with those in the treatment and prevention communities to discourage unauthorized gambling by teenagers who are too young to make rational choices regarding the risks associated with these activities. I commend James Maney and his staff at the New York Council on Problem Gambling and the Office of Alcohol and Substance Abuse Services for their efforts to heighten public awareness regarding underage gambling.”
Saratoga County District Attorney James Murphy said, “I am pleased to join NYRA, OASAS, Racing and Wagering Board, New York Council on Problem Gambling and the Prevention Council to stop the incidence of underage gambling at the Saratoga Race Course. It’s important to educate our youth about how problem gambling can lead to personal and financial difficulties.”
The New York Council on Problem Gambling Executive Director Jim Maney said, “I am pleased to bring about this public collaboration with a diverse representation of local and state leaders. By working together, we can ensure the appropriate steps are taken to reduce youth access to gambling and send a clear message that underage gambling is not acceptable in New York state.”
The Alcohol and Substance Abuse Prevention Council of Saratoga’s Executive Director Heather Kisselback said, “Gambling for anyone under the age of 18 is illegal. Introducing gambling to youth increases the likelihood that they will develop gambling-related problems at some point in their lifetime. The Alcohol and Substance Abuse Prevention Council is excited to be working in collaboration with OASAS, New York Racing and Wagering, New York Council on Problem Gambling, NY Racing Association, and the Saratoga DA’s office in efforts to educate the community about underage gambling and to help the community mobilize around the issue of problem gambling in Saratoga County.
As part of the kickoff, a partnership luncheon was held at the Alcohol and Substance Abuse Prevention Council of Saratoga County, 36 Phila Street in Saratoga, to launch these collaborative efforts for a safe and fun Saratoga Track season.
To further underage gambling prevention efforts around the state, OASAS oversees and funds 42 prevention providers which focus on implementing strategies to reduce underage gambling and educate families, schools and community members on the risks and consequences of problem gambling. The Racing and Wagering Board oversees legalized gaming activities and facilities to ensure they operate in full compliance with New York’s statues. The New York Council on Problem Gambling advocates for the enforcement of laws and the development of policies to reduce youth access to gambling. In addition, the NY Racing Association, which operates the three largest thoroughbred racetracks in New York, produced a poster this year that will be prominently displayed at the Saratoga Track to remind families that gambling under the age of 18 is illegal.
Gambling addiction affects individuals and their loved ones, but New Yorkers need to know that help and hope is available. Individuals can get help by calling the state’s toll-free, 24-hour, 7-day a week HOPEline, 1-877-8-HOPENY, staffed by trained clinicians ready to answer questions, help refer loved ones to treatment and provide other vital resources to facilitate that first step into recovery.
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