Gov. Chris Christie has declared the month of March "Problem Gambling Awareness Month" in New Jersey to focus attention on this potentially ruining addiction.

New Jersey Lottery Executive Director Carole Hedinger says the agency has long been involved with promoting responsible play.

"And our mission has always been to sell lottery tickets responsibly."

She says that the Lottery has a longstanding partnership with the Council on Compulsive Gambling of New Jersey.

"We promote (gambling addiction awareness) among our retailers, through the use of brochures that can be given out to players or are available for players at retail locations, what the signs of potentially problem gambling can be."

Hedinger says when someone becomes secretive about their habits or money goes missing or their mood changes, and attitude changes towards family members, it can indicate that they might have a problem.

"To get help to people like that, we put on every single thing that we print or air the problem gambling number, the 1-800-GAMBLER number."

According to the website 800gambler.org, approximately 300,000 adults in New Jersey will battle gambling problems in their lifetime. They also say that 87,000 seniors in the state are also affected by a gambling problem. About 30,000 teenagers have a gambling addiction, even though they are not old enough to gamble legally.

Neva Pryor, executive director of the Council on Compulsive Gambling of New Jersey, says "it is so important that we have a conversation, so that those individuals who do have an addiction to problem gambling, know where to go for help."

Unfortunately, Pryor says the compulsive gambling trend may be getting worse. If that is so, Pryor pins at least some of the worsening trend on increased gambling access.

"People have access to gaming, they have the internet gambling, so they do not have to leave their homes to go to the casinos, or they do not even have to go and buy a lottery ticket. They can do it from the comfort of their home."

But for someone who is worried that they may have a gambling addiction, the path to help can start by calling 1-800-GAMBLER printed on every New Jersey lottery ticket.

Joe Cutter is the afternoon news anchor on New Jersey 101.5

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