Problem Gambling Awareness Month
Senator Kim Ward and I have introduced Senate Resolution 299 (SR 299) that designates March as “Problem Gambling Awareness Month” in Pennsylvania and observes the 1st Annual National Problem Gambling Awareness Month, which represents an expansion of the National Council on Problem Gambling previous week-long campaign to a month-long campaign. The purpose of this resolution is to help ensure that residents are informed about the issue of problem gambling and the programs available to help individuals and their families who have been adversely affected by this serious issue.
Compulsive gambling can destabilize entire families, homes, savings and retirement accounts and is often referred to as the “hidden addiction” because there are no physical symptoms that alert others to the addiction. About four percent of the United States’ population has a gambling problem with about 98,000 Pennsylvanians fitting into the compulsive or pathological gambling addiction category.
More recently, gambling addiction has become a growing problem among the senior population and many times remains hidden under the innocent guise of “fun, travel and recreation.” Older adults resort to gambling as consequence of a loss of job, spouse or looking for a sense of purpose as one grows older. More surprisingly, senior women make up nearly 25 percent of people addicted to pathological gambling and become addicted almost three times faster than men.
The National Council on Problem Gambling offers 10 warning signs of gambling addiction that everyone should be aware of:
- Have you often gambled longer than you had planned?
- Have you often gambled until your last dollar was gone?
- Have thoughts of gambling caused you to lose sleep?
- Have you used your income or savings to gamble while letting bills go unpaid?
- Have you made repeated, unsuccessful attempts to stop gambling?
- Have you broken the law or considered breaking the law to finance your gambling?
- Have you borrowed money to finance your gambling?
- Have you felt depressed or suicidal because of your gambling losses?
- Have you been remorseful after gambling?
- Have you gambled to get money to meet your financial obligations?
The resolution also urges the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board to continue its outreach efforts and to work with the Commonwealth’s gaming industry to implement problem gambling programs at licensed facilities and throughout the community.
While legalized gambling was designed to allow individuals to enjoy its recreational aspects and to foster economic development in this state, the awareness and knowledge of this problem will help ensure that gambling addiction is adequately identified and addressed. If you, or anyone in your life, have a problem with gambling, there are resources that can be of assistance. The Council on Compulsive Gambling of Pennsylvania has a website, www.pacouncil.com that includes information on problem gambling and additional signs to look for when determining whether an individual has a problem. I encourage anyone with a gambling problem to visit this site or to call 1-800-GAMBLER (1-800-848-1880).
Local Law Enforcement Grants
The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board will be awarding $2 million in grants to local law enforcement agencies for the purpose of investigating, enforcing and preventing unlawful gambling in the Commonwealth. A maximum award of $250,000 can be applied for by any single local law enforcement agency.
Grant funds may be used for the purpose of attending or conducting education and training events, defraying costs associated with the investigation, prevention, deterrence or enforcement of laws related to illegal gambling, or the prosecution of crimes involving illegal gambling.
Applications will be accepted until all grant funds have been committed. To download an application, please visit www.gamingcontrolboard.pa.gov. For additional questions about the grant program, please call 717-346-8300 or email PGCB@pa.gov and type “Local Law Enforcement Grants” in the subject line. Completed applications can be mailed to the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board at:
Local Law Enforcement Grant Program
303 Walnut Street
P.O. Box 69060
Harrisburg, PA 17106-9060
FAFSA Completion Assistance
I want to remind all high school seniors that are interested in attending a post-secondary school to complete the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid). The FAFSA is the federal form that all students must submit to determine eligibility for most forms of need-based financial assistance, including the Pennsylvania State Grant, the Federal Pell Grant, work-study programs, the PA Targeted Industry Program (PA-TIP), various scholarships, some school-based aid, and federal student loans. The only way to find out if you qualify for awards is to complete and submit the FAFSA. Students who are eligible for awards can reduce their family’s out-of-pocket expenses and make the cost of higher education more manageable.
In my role as Vice-Chair of the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency (PHEAA), I want families and students to know there is free help available to them when applying for financial assistance for college. PHEAA, in conjunction with the PA Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (PASFAA) is offering FAFSA Completion Sessions across the Commonwealth through April for families with students planning to attend college. To view a listing of the FAFSA Completion Sessions taking place around the Commonwealth, please visit
the FAFSA Completion Help Page on PHEAA's website. This site will be updated as additional sessions are scheduled.
Students and families will be able to complete the FAFSA online at www.fafsa.ed.gov and will need the following information when beginning the application process:
- Social Security Numbers
- Student’s driver’s license
- Alien registration number, if not a U.S. citizen
- W-2 Forms
- Records of untaxed income received, including workers’ compensation, child support, payments to tax-deferred pension and savings plans, etc.
- Federal income tax return (1040, 1040A, 1040EZ)
- Current bank statements and records of stocks, bonds, and other investments
Please remember it is better to complete and submit the FAFSA as soon as possible as school's financial aid deadlines vary.
Consumer Protection Event
The Pennsylvania Office of the Attorney General, Bureau of Consumer Protection is hosting its annual Consumer Awareness Fair tomorrow in downtown Pittsburgh. The Fair is being held at the City-County Building lobby, located at 414 Grant Street in downtown Pittsburgh, from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. This event is coordinated in conjunction with National Consumer Protection Week and will offer attendees consumer protection education including credit, debit and identity theft, fraud technology and more. The event is open to the public. For more information, please visit www.attorneygeneral.gov.
Turnpike Traveler Advisory Panel
The Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission (PTC) is recruiting 4,000 customers to serve as volunteers for the Turnpike Traveler Advisory Panel. The Panel is a new and innovative way to enable Turnpike users to provide direct feedback on any number of issues from road quality to overall satisfaction and future initiatives that impact motorists.
The Traveler Advisory Panel research community will be made up of both commercial and passenger customers reflecting the Commission’s customer base across the 550-plus mile system including E-Z Pass users, motorists who prefer to pay cash, and both frequent and occasional users. Participants will contribute to research studies throughout and earn rewards for their time and effort.
For more information the Turnpike Traveler Advisory Panel and to learn how to join, please visit www.paturnpike.com/TurnpikeTAP or click here.
Special Needs Registry
Last week, Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald announced the launch of an online Special Needs Registry that allows Allegheny County residents with physical, mental health or intellectual disabilities to provide information to the Department of Emergency Services. The voluntary information may then be shared with those responding to a home for a police, fire or medical emergency. There are over 159,000 people in Allegheny County who have some type of disability.
Information provided through the Registry will be programmed to appear on the screen when an emergency call is made from that particular home. This will allow dispatchers to alert emergency responders that there may be a unique situation in the home involving a person with special needs. The information provided by residents will be shared with 9-1-1, fire, police, emergency medical services, emergency planners and first responders in a time of crisis. Providing the information does not guarantee that the person will receive immediate or special aid in an emergency or disaster but municipalities may be able to make reasonable accommodations and knowing of any special needs and having all relevant information can make a difference.
Any Allegheny County resident who may require additional assistance due to special needs during an emergency may submit information to the Registry. In the event that the person with special needs is unable to submit the information on their own, a person who is authorized to act on their behalf may do so. Anyone with physical, mental health or intellectual disabilities that would keep them from leaving the home quickly if told to do so, or caused to do so, should consider registering.
To register online please visit the Special Needs Registry page at www.alleghenycounty.us. You may also call 412-473-1000 or 412-473-3056 for more information about registering.
DCNR Winter Activity Maps
As the winter weather continues, the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation & Natural Resources (DCNR) has unveiled a new online service that showcases the many winter activities available around the Commonwealth. If you’re interested in skiing, ice fishing, sledding, snowmobiling or other winter-related activities, DCNR is offering an online venue to locate where these activities are available. Users can search by activity or location and also will have access to a winter activities report that lists up-to-date snow and ice conditions.
To get started, please visit the DCNR Story Maps page at www.dcnr.state.pa.us. These maps are accessible from desktops and mobile devices.
Great American Cleanup
This year’s Great American Cleanup of Pennsylvania began over the weekend and runs through May 31st. This project is an annual effort organized by Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful, and sponsored by the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT), the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), Pennsylvania Waste Industry Association, Pennsylvania Food Merchant’s Association and Weis Markets, with the goal of keeping our communities clean and improving the overall quality of life for everyone.
If you are interested in volunteering, please visit www.gacofpa.org where you can find a listing of cleanup events, resources for organizing a cleanup, and other information. Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful is also again offering the Great American Cleanup of Pennsylvania Video Contest, where event organizers can submit a video of their cleanup event and win a cash prize as well as having their video posted online. More information on the Video Contest can also be found at www.gacofpa.org.
Did You Know…
Did you know that since the inception of the Great American Cleanup Pennsylvania in 2004 that over 1.5 million volunteers have picked up 74 million pounds of litter and waste?
Passing of a Legend
Pittsburgh lost a DJ music legend last weekend with the passing of Porky Chedwick at the age of 96. Porky was a native of Brookline. Known as the Daddio of the Raddio, Porky was an inspiration to artists, musicians and radio personalities throughout the region over the years. Within the last few years, I was honored to have him in Harrisburg where he addressed the entire Senate on the Senate floor and was pleased to welcome him at my annual FontanaFest. I extend my deepest condolences to Porky’s family and friends.
In a sure sign that winter is winding down and spring will be here soon, the Pittsburgh Pirates played their first exhibition game last week, defeating the New York Yankees 6-5 in Bradenton, Florida. A crowd of 6,870 attended the game which was a record for an opening day crowd at McKechnie Field, the Pirates spring training home. The Pirates, fresh off their first playoff appearance since 1992, open the regular season at PNC Park on March 31st.
Offices of State Senator Wayne D. Fontana
|| Brookline District
932 Brookline Blvd.
Pittsburgh, PA 15226
543 Main Capitol
Harrisburg, PA 17120
524 Pine Hollow Rd
| Beechview Satellite
1660 Broadway Ave.
Pittsburgh, PA 15216