The Michigan Gaming Control Board (MGCB) has announced that it is replacing its in-state Problem Gambling Hotline with the National Problem Gambling Helpline: 1-800-GAMBLER. Operated by the National Council on Problem Gambling (NCPG), 1-800-GAMBLER is the world’s largest problem gambling helpline, as measured by call volume and coverage area. In just over a year of operation, the helpline has grown to encompass all 50 states and all US territories through a network of 27 contact centers. It’s available around the clock, 365 days per year.
Having a single national number eliminates confusion and helps gamblers find the resources they need. Yet the service itself remains local, where possible. Michigan residents who call the national helpline will be rerouted to the Michigan Department of Health & Human Services.
The national helpline also provides alternatives to using the phone. Those seeking help can connect with the helpline by texting 800GAM or access online chat at 1800gamblerchat.org. Michigan’s existing in-state helpline, 1-800-270-7117, will remain operational, so those with the old number can still get help.
Michigan online casinos and sportsbooks must display the new helpline on their sites as part of their regulatory obligations toward responsible gaming. The operators have until Aug. 8, 2024, to replace the old helpline numbers in their messaging.
After the announcement, MGCB Executive Director Henry Williams emphasized the agency’s commitment to providing a safe environment to players in the state. He added,
By adopting 1-800-GAMBLER as the statewide problem gambling helpline, the MGCB reinforces its commitment to ensuring a safe and secure gaming environment for players across the state by ensuring that resources for treatment and recovery can be accessed quickly and easily.
NCPG Executive Director Keith Whyte applauded MGCB for its proactive efforts to support Michigan players. He added that an easily accessible helpline is vital for providing problem gambling services to those affected nationwide.
NCPG estimates that nationwide, two million adults have severe gambling problems, while four to six million suffer from a less extreme gambling disorder.
MGCB Commitment To Responsible Gaming
Switching to the 1-800-GAMBLER helpline is another step for MGCB in its goal to promote responsible gaming. The regulator has proactively encouraged safe gambling with efforts like “Don’t Regret the Bet.” That campaign included social media messaging and TV spots that aired alongside gambling operators’ ads during sports broadcast commercial breaks.
The results have been very positive. As of October, DontRegretTheBet.org had induced roughly 60,000 site visitors to call the Michigan Problem Gambling Helpline. As a result, the campaign has won awards like the 2023 Platinum Viddy Award, Platinum dotCOMM Award, and Platinum MarCom Award.
In another effort, the MGCB launched the Double Down podcast in March 2023. The monthly podcast, hosted by Williams, discusses responsible gaming, gaming legislation, news, and more. The MGCB has released 12 episodes to date.
Last spring, the regulator was one of seven to seek help from the US Department of Justice (DOJ) to help fight illegal offshore operators.