KY Wise To Use National Hotline Over State-Specific Number For Problem Gambling

Written By Chris Gerlacher on May 22, 2023
Kentucky gambling hotline

The Kentucky Council on Problem Gambling lists 1-800-GAMBLER as its helpline number. This number connects Kentuckians to problem gambling resources in their area, from treatment providers to crisis counselors.

The problem gambling helpline number is an underrated issue in the Kentucky sports betting discussion.


The helpline is one of the most common services funded by each state chapter of the National Council on Problem Gambling. However, some states have their own helpline instead of the national helpline. That small detail can result in confusion that impedes callers’ abilities to connect with the resources they need to address gambling problems.

Competing problem gambling helpline numbers

In 1985, the NCPG established a national helpline for the first time. During this period, other states had their own problem gambling helpline numbers. It wasn’t as big a deal before widespread internet use and national gambling advertising.

However, those different numbers affected callers in the sports betting age.

“Many state lines either don’t work outside the boundaries of that state or, if they do work, you only get to that state’s helpline,” NCPG Executive Director Keith Whyte told PlayKentucky. “If you’re in New York and you see a New Mexico number and you call it, you’ll only get the New Mexico helpline, which is not where you need to be, especially if you’re in a crisis.”

In a February 2023 DraftKings commercial, the fine print at the end included the national problem gambling helpline number and several state numbers. Some of the states with their own state numbers included:

  • Arizona
  • Kansas
  • New Hampshire
  • Iowa
  • Oregon
  • Virginia

Do you think residents in those states saw their tiny, state-specific helpline on the screen?

Identifying a state helpline number from the fine print at the bottom of a screen keeps an important resource out of view. It’s a disservice to a number that accomplishes much for its callers.

Kentucky has automated direction to local resources

Even though Kentucky casinos don’t exist, many citizens travel to surrounding states to partake in them. The different states for gambling and residency complicate efforts to coordinate care for problem gamblers through different state helplines.

Kentucky Council on Problem Gambling Executive Director Michael Stone told PlayKentucky the best solution is to simply have one national hotline option that then forwards callers to state-specific resources — which is what happens for responsible gambling in Kentucky.

“If (Kentuckians) were gambling in Las Vegas or a Native American casino in Montana and they get in trouble and they need help, they (could call) the 1-800-GAMBLER national helpline number,” Stone said. “It would read their area code and refer them directly to Kentucky for services.”

Problem gamblers require ongoing care to overcome their gambling disorders. Connecting with local counselors, coordinating care and having crisis counseling close at hand is a vital service for a state’s problem gamblers.

This is one responsible gambling approach that Kentucky does better compared with larger, further-developed online gambling markets like Iowa and Arizona. It’s a lead that other states can learn from, too.

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Written by
Chris Gerlacher

Christopher Gerlacher is the lead writer for PlayKentucky. He is a versatile, experienced writer with a portfolio that ranges from political and legislative pieces to sports and sports betting. Gerlacher is a devout Broncos fan, for better or for worse, living in the foothills of Arvada, CO.

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