The New Jersey lottery and the Council on Compulsive Gambling of New Jersey have collaborated on a new campaign to increase problem gambling awareness.

Neva Pryor, executive director of the Council on Compulsive Gambling of New Jersey, says the "Awareness + Action" campaign is about letting people know that "this is a preventable disease."

"Gambling can be an enjoyable activity for some people but for others and their families, that really caused the problem," she said.

Pryor says they will get the message out through media and online videos that anyone affected by a problem gambler, including families, should call 1-800-GAMBLER.

"Some schools have us coming in to do presentations to children because we want to let children know that gambling is illegal and that it's something that they shouldn't be involved in," she said.

She also says the introduction of sports betting and online gambling has increased public exposure to gambling opportunities, and also heightened the risk for problem gamblers.

"We've seen an increase in our phone calls . And right now we're tracking the sports betting calls in particular and we've known that among our calls, 22 percent of them are related to sports as a primary or secondary activity," she said.

The plus side of legalizing sports betting, she said, is that those problem gamblers won't feel as scared or ashamed to use the hotline for help.

Joe Cutter is the afternoon news anchor on New Jersey 101.5

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