RALEIGH, N.C. -- The NC Education Lottery wants to help those with gambling problems get the help they need.

Every year, the lottery gives $1 million to support problem gambling services ranging from the helpline to prevention efforts to free treatment and care.

“While most folks who play lottery games do play responsibly, the N.C. Problem Gambling Program can provide help to those who play too much," says Alice Garland, executive director of the NC Education Lottery.

March is Problem Gambling Awareness Month. This week, the lottery will broadcast ads statewide to raise awareness about its toll-free problem gambling hotline.

The lottery is also spreading awareness on its website, social media, and on monitors anywhere you can buy lottery tickets.

The NC Lottery says 469 people were able to get help through the problem-gambling hotline in 2016 - 362 of those callers described themselves as problem-gamblers and 107 callers said they were affected by problem gambling.

The NC Lottery also says there's been a 3-percent increase in helpline engagement through text or online chats.

Here are some of the ways folks can get help:

  • Texting morethanagamenc to 53342. The text service also allows someone to subscribe via text to a motivational messaging program, receiving two texts a week for six months to help the subscriber cope with gambling issues.
  • Joining a live web chat at www.morethanagamenc.com.
  • Calling the toll-free helpline at (877) 718-5543.