Though this column usually focuses on the latest slot machines, casino promotions and other benefits players enjoy, occasionally it’s good to step back and take a look at the other side of gambling.

March is Problem Gambling Awareness Month. In his proclamation New Jersey Governor Chris Christie urges everyone to spread the message that there is help for problem gamblers, and support for those in recovery, as well as their families.

Compulsive gambling can compromise or damage someone’s personal life, family relationships and work. It’s an emotional illness recognized by the American Psychiatric Association.

Neva Pryor, executive director of the Council on Compulsive Gambling of New Jersey (CCGNJ) sees this month as a great opportunity both to create awareness of problem gambling and reduce the stigma often associated with a gambling disorder.

“We urge those with a problem to reach out to our 24-hour confidential helpline at 800-GAMBLER,” Pryor says. “Help is available and can assist people in finding a better, more productive life.”

Do you know people who claim they gamble to calm nerves or forget worries? Have they lost interest in other activities? Might they be lying about how much money they take away from other basic needs to fund their gambling? If so, now is the time to take action.

Gambling is — and should be — entertainment. Those who play responsibly know their limits and when to stop.

If you know someone you think goes too far, be a good friend and talk to that person.

For more information, go to CCGNJ’s website, The website has a variety of fact sheets, brochures, videos and a calendar of events.

Here’s the key

Philadelphia’s SugarHouse Casino will upgrade current Total Rewards Seven Stars and Borgata Titanium cardholders to its new Key member status.

In addition, they will receive $250 in free slot play, access to the High Limit Lounge, VIP parking with private elevator access, and a loss reimbursement refund.

The offer, which expires March 31, but may be extended, applies both to new and existing Rush Rewards cardholders.

Visit the Concierge Podium in the High Limit area for details.

Match game

March 16, 23 and 30, between 9 a.m. and 10 p.m., bring your players club card and monthly slot offer from any New Jersey or Pennsylvania casino to Mt. Airy Casino Resort in Pennsylvania. The casino will match up to $300, with a limit of one offer per day. This promotion may be extended, as well.

Recreational gambler Darryl D. McEwen, a former professional journalist, is president of his own consulting firm that manages several small national and international trade associations, and provides public relations and fundraising services for a number of charitable organizations. Have a comment on this or a question specifically related to an Atlantic City casino, players club or other promotion? Email Darryl at and he’ll try to respond to you personally. Your question — without your name — may appear in a future column.

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