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Midwest Consortium on Problem Gambling and Substance Abuse: Upcoming Conference Celebrates 15 years

March 20, 2018

Carol Spiker, LAC, CPP, KCGC
Problem Gambling Program Manager
Behavioral Health Services Commission
Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services

Image of a man and a dice

Gambling is an activity in which something of value is risked on a chance that something of value might be obtained, the outcome based on chance. Organized gambling has grown tremendously in the U.S. since the 1980’s because many people have been willing and eager to spend money in exchange for a chance at something bigger and better than what they have.  States have legalized and expanded gambling with the promise of substantial economic benefit and tax revenue.

Nearly 80 percent of Americans report they have gambled in the past year. Americans spent an estimated $116.9 billion on legal gambling and an estimated $150 billion on illegal sports gambling in 2016. There is no question that legalized gambling has brought a multitude of economic benefit to communities in the form of tourist trade, tax revenue and funding for state and community level programs. It has also presented economic and social costs for states and communities. An estimated 1.5 to three percent of Americans are at risk of repeated problematic gambling behavior that result in consequences such as bankruptcy, crime, job loss, significant relationship problems, child abuse and neglect, physical and mental health problems, and suicide.


As gambling expansion evolved in the Midwest, a group of compassionate stakeholders from Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, and Oklahoma concerned about the social impact of disordered gambling and the comorbidity of substance abuse, collectively formed the Midwest Consortium on Problem Gambling andSubstance Abuse. In 2004, they held their first multi-state conference in St. Louis. Keeping true to the its mission, “to promote and unify education, science and services to improve the quality and availability of community-based problem gambling and substance abuse treatment services for individuals and families who need them,” the Consortium will hold its 15th annual conference in Kansas City, MO June 20-22. 

The 2018 conference theme Inspiring Recovery Focused Outcomes will feature keynote speakers from  the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, along with:

  • Mark Parrino, President of the American Association for the Treatment of Opioid Dependence
  • Canada’s Cam Adair, Founder of Game Quitters (video gaming)
  • Dr. John Kelly, Associate Professor, Addiction Medicine at Harvard Medical School
  • Dr. Lia Nower, Director of the Center for Gambling Studies at Rutgers University
  • Stacey Frohnapfel-Hasson, Gambling Chief at the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services

Breakout presentations will include the keynote presenters and presenters who bring their expertise from Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, and New Jersey.

This year, the conference will provide valuable insights into the impact of social gaming, the opioid epidemic, medication assisted treatment practices, and cannabis and public policy. Building on past successes, the conference brings national and international speakers to the region to provide new and returning participants with learning opportunities on the most current prevention, research and treatment best practices in gambling disorder and substance abuse. Participants will have opportunities to network with each other, to connect and engage with national and international speakers, and to learn from some of the best in the field.
The annual conference would not be possible without the compassionate stakeholders who volunteer their time and expertise throughout the year in the planning and execution of this multi-state conference, and it most certainly would not be as innovative without the many sponsors like the Mid-America ATTC whose financial support make it possible to bring experts from around the world to share their knowledge and experience with the Midwest.
The MCPGSA Committee hope to see you in Kansas City, June 20-22!
For more information on the 2018 conference, registration and hotel, please visit the conference website

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