The University of Maryland School of Medicine is taking aim at gambling addiction via a $5 million state grant.
The money, from the state Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, will fund the new Center of Excellence for Problem Gambling, which will train behavioral health specialists to deal with the issue, operate a telephone help line for problem gamblers, and run a public awareness and prevention campaign.
“This is a major step forward in our ability to help those who have a gambling problem,” E. Albert Reece, vice president for medical affairs at the university and dean of the school of medicine, said in a statement.
The center, which opened in July in Baltimore, will offer national certification in problem gambling treatment, and will play host to two annual statewide conferences, as well as eight regional conferences to develop a broad network of health providers that treat problem gamblers.
The help line — 800-522-4700 — is staffed 24 hours per day by a trained counselor, and is required by law to be displayed in the state’s casinos.
“With the expansion of gambling in Maryland, we should be prepared for the possibility that the number of problem gamblers will rise,” said Joanna Franklin, the center’s deputy director, in a statement.