Gambler Help Hotline
The first program established in April 1998 provided a 24-hour toll-free hotline for problem gamblers to call to receive information on help available to them (1-888-900-9979).
That early effort, along with those that have been undertaken more recently, have been financed by the Montana Gaming Research and Education Fund, which is in turn funded by gaming business associations and individual businesses.
Today, helpline calls are answered by trained counselors who can offer counseling over the phone as well as direct callers to local help sources such as licensed treatment providers, group therapy sessions and Gamblers Anonymous meetings, and will send literature on compulsive gambling upon request.
Gaming businesses have produced posters that displayed the toll-free hotline number and led a campaign to have them placed in gaming establishments.
The help services are promoted through extensive television advertising, yellow pages advertising, billboards and with full-color posters on display in progressive licensed establishments—all paid for by gaming businesses and their associations.
The move toward a private solution for problem gambling has come after three separate legislatures (in 1995, 1997 and 1999) rejected proposals for using existing gambling tax revenues. Among the reasons was that gambling tax money was committed elsewhere and that it would be difficult to determine how much money would be needed because the extent of the problem is not well known.