The New Jersey Lottery and the Council on Compulsive Gambling of New Jersey are trying to raise awareness about problem gambling with "Awareness + Action," a new campaign during March.

James Carey, executive director of the New Jersey Lottery, said if a person is engaging in what he calls "disoriented gambling habits," they're not using the lottery the way it hopes players will.

"The New Jersey Lottery and other forms of legalized gambling are supposed to be a fun diversion," Carey said. "Gambling or the lottery is not a form of investment. It's not a way to plan for your future. If you're spending money and you can't afford necessities like your rent or your car payments or food, then you shouldn't be gambling."

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According to the New Jersey Council on Compulsive Gambling, 1 in 20 American adults will have some type of difficulty with gambling in their lifetime, and 95% of Americans have gambled in their lives. Adolescents and college students are twice as likely as adults to have problems with gambling, it says.

One out of every three substance abusers also struggles with gambling, according to the council. Casino employees are more susceptible to problem gambling than the general public.

"'Awareness + Action' means that all people and our retailers should be aware that some people might engage in problem or disordered gambling," Carey said. "And if you're aware of that, you have the opportunity to take action to do something about it."

The, "Awareness + Action" campaign is the latest effort to raise public awareness about problem gambling's dangers.

"We've been a partner with the Council on Compulsive Gambling of New Jersey for years. And the Lottery even sits on the Council's Board of Directors," Carey said.

The Council estimates approximately 350,000 adults in New Jersey will battle gambling problems in their lifetime.

Joe Cutter is the afternoon news anchor on New Jersey 101.5.

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