January 2022
A Message From the Executive Director
Welcome to the Winter 2022 edition of the Council Connection Newsletter. My name is Felicia Grondin and I was recently appointed as The Council on Compulsive Gambling of New Jersey’s (CCGNJ) new Executive Director. I am grateful for the opportunity to serve in this capacity, given my background in gambling and related issues and my passion to help those dealing with a gambling disorder. 

With the ongoing expansion and increased accessibility of gambling in New Jersey and throughout the country, it is more important than ever to educate the public about the dangers of gambling and help those who are struggling. Our prevention team provides free presentations and outreach to groups, schools, and organizations; if you would like to schedule a presentation just give us a call at 1-800-GAMBLER.

Since its inception in 1983, the CCGNJ has helped countless people recover from disordered gambling, by providing support, treatment, and hope. If you or anyone you know is dealing with a gambling problem, please call our free helpline – also at 1-800-GAMBLER.

The CCGNJ looks forward to continuing to “spread the word” about gambling and help disordered gamblers and their families find treatment and hope in the upcoming year. On behalf of the CCGNJ, I wish you a healthy 2022.

Warm Regards – 

Felicia Grondin, MPA, CPM

"Lottery Tickets Aren't Child's Play” Campaign

NJ Lottery Gift Responsibly this Holiday Season “Lottery Tickets Aren't Child's Play” campaign

This past December, the Council on Compulsive Gambling of New Jersey, Inc. (CCGNJ) participated in a press conference organized by the NJ Lottery to promote the Gift Responsibly this Holiday Season“ Lottery Tickets Aren't Child's Play” campaign. This annual initiative is a result of the New Jersey Lottery joining forces with the National Council on Problem Gambling (NCPG), and the International Centre for Youth Gambling Problems and High-Risk Behaviors at McGill University to build public awareness that lottery products are not an appropriate gift for minors.

To reinforce the concept, the Lottery launched a holiday advertising campaign that includes the messaging, “Tis the season to gift responsibly. Lottery Tickets Aren’t Child’s Play.” The CCGNJ and the Lottery continually work together throughout the year to discourage underage gambling and to promote responsible gambling. According to Felicia Grondin, executive director of CCGNJ, “The Lottery is a valuable partner with the Council in efforts to reinforce the message that parents and other adults should refrain from gifting lottery tickets to minors. The Council is grateful to the Lottery for its commitment to the prevention of underage gambling. We urge parents to use good judgment in making gift selections for their children and to refrain from giving them lottery tickets.”
Gambling Treatment Diversion Court Legislation
This past June, two bills were introduced in the State Senate and Assembly (A-5604/S-3976) that would establish a Gambling Treatment Diversion Court (GTDC), which would provide an alternative form of sentencing for eligible individuals who have been convicted of a crime due to a gambling disorder. The GTDC is modeled after a similar program established in November 2018 in Las Vegas, Nevada. The bills were re-introduced this legislative session (S-485/A-420).
For more information about the GTDC visit https://www.njgamblingcourtinitiative.com/. Contact your local legislator https://www.njleg.state.nj.us/members/abcroster.asp to communicate your concerns or express support regarding this legislation. 
Webinar Series
The Council will resume its webinar series, on Friday, January 28, 2022 (from 11am-12pm) entitled “Teen Gambling: What is the harm?”. Luis Del Orbe will discuss how few adults are aware of the risks associated with excessive gambling, while adolescents don’t ever consider the consequences involved with this activity. With the increased availability of gambling and continuous advances in related technology, whether gambling or games of chance, more and more youth are attracted to this activity since it is viewed as exciting and entertaining, or perceived as an avenue to attain financial freedom.
Join the Council of Compulsive Gambling of New Jersey, Inc., as we explore adolescent attraction to this risky behavior, that can result in gambling addiction, behavior problems and other significant negative consequences. To Register for this webinar go to:
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Mark Your Calendars!
March is Problem Gambling Awareness Month
In recognition of Problem Gambling Awareness Month this March, the CCGNJ will be offering webinars, events, presentations, and other initiatives to highlight problem gambling and resources available to help those who are struggling. Keep an eye out for upcoming related events!

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Council Spotlight
Peer Recovery Specialist, Phil Glick’s Story of Recovery
Hello, I'm Phil G and my last bet was April 19th, 2017.
I am a father, a husband, a son, a brother, a friend, a worker, and a sports fan. I am also a gambler in recovery. For many years, way too many, one of my favorite hobbies (I thought) was wagering and watching horse races.   
Starting at the beginning, my father was a racing fan, and even wrote about it in some New Jersey newspapers that have come and gone.  Since he enjoyed it as a hobby, I wanted to get involved, too. I didn't quite make the connection that family vacations were always conveniently near racetracks. My father brought me to Monmouth, Freehold, Monticello, Liberty Bell, Philadelphia Park, Garden State, Delaware Park, Yonkers, and Roosevelt racetracks, all before I was 12 years old. Then, I was introduced to the Meadowlands. From ages 12-17 I went there with my father once a month and sent bets with him about 2 more times each month.  A fun little habit was starting to get dangerous, but I didn't see it. Instead of attending my high school prom I went to the track.  Instead of going on dates, I went to the track. Instead of doing homework, I went to the track. I didn’t spot a troubling pattern; I just thought it was normal.   
I went to college in New Jersey (Trenton State at the time) and lived on campus and my first year went well. I thought I could be a student AND go to the track on occasion. But I realized this wasn’t possible I started going to the track more than to my classes, and started working menial jobs to get money, so I could lose it gambling. While this doesn’t sound logical, it was perfectly normal to me.  
I attended my first 12-step meeting when I was 18 or 19 in West Windsor NJ. I thought “I couldn't be as bad as these lifelong losers,” but I was wrong.  
I periodically would get my life together for some months or years, but from age 20-27 I was lost.  I hadn't graduated college, was living with my parents, wasn't dating, or living life, other than work and gambling.  At this time, I also began going to casinos on occasion, and going into debt.  My debt was mostly loans, those 20% interest loans you see advertised on TV - payday loans, personal loans, etc. I didn’t quite deal with the 'mob' you may see in the movies, but my lenders were not too different. 
I was set up on a blind date in 2007 and met a wonderful girl who would become my wife a couple of years later. This amazing woman has stood by me, even though I have made terrible life decisions. I don't quite know how this is possible, but we've been married for 23 years. We have two terrific girls who are now 22 and 19. I went back and received my college diploma. I've had stumbles along the way, but after my last relapse I really tried to turn my life around (again) in 2017. I became very active in a 12-step program, and I see a gambling counselor regularly.  
In 2020, even during the Covid epidemic, I knew I wanted to do more to help people like me AND continue to help myself.  I heard WFAN and Craig Carton were starting a radio program that would feature stories of industry treatment experts and of gamblers. I got in touch with the station and volunteered to be a guest anytime they needed one. Sure enough, in January 2021, I was selected for the second show they produced. I was a bit scared, but I just put it all out there and I think it went well.  Luckily, Craig, and the gentleman helping him, Dan Trolaro, did a fine job getting me to tell my story.  
But that wasn't enough. I thought I could do more. I talked to my therapist, and he suggested calling the 1-800-GAMBLER helpline to see if they might need help. Turns out, they did, and I was hired in August 2021 as a Peer Gambling Specialist, assisting with the helpline, and directing callers to the support and treatment they may need. I also speak at senior centers, schools, hospitals, and any organizations who are willing to hear about gambling and related problems within their communities.  
I've been fortunate enough to be on the WFAN show a second time, as well a guest on a popular podcast called “The Bet Free Life (episode 8)”. It is an amazing life for me now, and I have a very bright future. I am so thankful to the council and to my therapist, but most of all to my family and friends. I have come to realize I have more great days, weeks, months, and years to enjoy.  
If you, or someone you love, is struggling with a possible gambling issue, please take the time to call us at 1-800-GAMBLER; we really do want to find you help.  It is worth a few minutes of your time. Great things can happen by simply picking up the phone and giving us a call.
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Problem Gambling: The Hidden Addiction Seminars
To Be Hosted at Ocean County Libraries

The Council on Compulsive Gambling of New Jersey will present timely, candid discussions and question and answer seminars at six branches of the Ocean County Library System.

The progressive nature of the addiction will be outlined by CCGNJ Prevention Specialist, Vin Bickler of Beachwood, N.J., who has been involved with helping problem gamblers in recovery for the past 40 years.

The warning signs of someone who is in the throes of their problem gambling will be outlined, in addition to the impact of internet gambling, dangerous youthful involvement, patterns of lonely seniors trapped in excessive gambling, and recovery options available to address the problem.

A question-and-answer period will follow, and materials/resources will be available for problem gamblers and for family/friends attempting to help someone with a gambling issue. Meetings are open to the public. It will be helpful if those planning to attend RSVP by calling: 732-674-4914 or sending an email to vincent@800gambler.org.

Seminar locations, dates, and times:

January 25, 2022 6:30– 8:00pm Lacey Branch of the Ocean County Library, 10 East Lacey Road, Forked River, NJ 08731

February 8, 2022 6:30– 8:00pm Berkeley Branch of the Ocean County Library - 30 Station Road, Bayville, NJ 08721

February 9, 2022 6:30–8:00 pm Little Egg Harbor Branch of the Ocean County Liibrary – 290 Mathistown Rd, Little Egg Harbor, NJ 08087

March 7, 2022 6:30–8:00pm Waretown Branch of the Ocean County Library, 112 Main St, Waretown, NJ 08758

March 16, 2022 6:30—8:00pm Toms River Branch of the Ocean County Library, 101 Washington St, Toms River, NJ 08753

March 22, 2022 6:30—8:00pm Brick Twp. Branch of the Ocean County Library, 301 Chambersbridge Rd, Brick, NJ 08723
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Book a CCGNJ Presentation for Your Group, Workplace
Would you like for the CCGNJ to visit your facility or group to discuss gambling and related disorders? Presentations can be provided in person or via Zoom. Please contact Luis Del Orbe, Prevention & Treatment Administrator, at 609-588-5515 (ext 120) or luis@800gambler.org to schedule a date.

Council on Compulsive Gambling of NJ, Inc. | www.800gambler. org