Pat Fowler, executive director of the Florida Council on Compulsive Gambling (FCCG), has been honored for lifetime achievement and advocacy in the field of problem gambling.
She received her honor in front of more than 300 attendees at the National Council on Problem Gambling’s (NCPG) Annual Conference Awards ceremony in Seattle. Fowler on Saturday accepted the Monsignor Joseph Dunne Award for Advocacy, which those in the indusry say is the nation’s most prestigious award.
The Dunne Award is given to an individual who has a minimum of 20 years of documented advocacy on behalf of problem gamblers and their families and has demonstrated exemplary work in support of the goals and objectives of the NCPG and/or its affiliates.
Fowler’s participation in assisting compulsive gamblers started in the early 1980s when she was actively involved in Gam-Anon, and served two years as the first International Chair of Gam-Anon in the early 1990s. During that period, on behalf of FCCG, she started the FCCG’s 24-hour Problem Gambling HelpLine, 888-ADMIT-IT, which has served as the state of Florida’s lifeline for problem gamblers and their families for almost 15 years. In 1992 she assumed the role of executive director of the FCCG and continues to serve in that full-time position.
“Under Pat’s leadership, the FCCG was instrumental in implementing many programs and research to assist all diverse populations adversely affected by pathological gambling,” explained Paul Ashe, FCCG’s Board President. “Over the past 25 years, Pat has always been a strong advocate to assist those in need to resolve the adverse consequences of compulsive gambling. Whether dealing with the State of Florida officials or the gambling industry, she has always been committed to assisting those in need, and does not accept ‘No’ for an answer.”
Fowler’s experience includes training casino personnel about compulsive gambling, and educating officials with the Florida Lottery and the Department of Business and Professional Regulation about all aspects of compulsive gambling, prevention, education, awareness, and implementation of self-exclusion programsm the release said.
In 2002, Fowler received the NCPG's "Distinguished Program Award" for the FCCG's program “Dealing with Addiction,” which provided insight and direction to mental health and addiction professionals in addressing compulsive gambling. She further secured Florida State certification for compulsive gambling addiction and prevention practitioners, and obtained approval from the Florida Medical Association for authorization of continuing education credits for medical and health care professionals for curriculum developed by the FCCG. She also gained funding from Florida state government and the gambling industry to support these programs.
She also served as a long-term member of the NCPG Board of Directors, was the past chair of the National Helpline Committee, and has promoted many initiatives at both the state and national levels including helpline operations, adolescent and college student programs, and programs assisting older adults.
One of her proudest accomplishments came a few years ago when she secured funding from the Seminole Tribe of Florida for gambling treatment. Today, anyone in Florida who cannot afford treatment, or who has inadequate insurance, can obtain treatment free of charge, or on a sliding scale based upon their ability to pay, the release noted.
The Dunne Award is named after Monsignor Joseph Dunne, a chaplain for the New York City Police who co-founded the National Council on Problem Gambling in 1972. Dunne and psychiatrist Dr. Robert Custer raised national awareness about problem gambling and the need for treatment. The Award was named after Monsignor Dunne after he died in June 2013.
In a letter of recommendation, Seminole Hard Rock Tampa President John Fontana wrote: “Over our 20-year relationship, Pat has helped me to develop a true understanding of the issues relating to problem and compulsive gambling and a passion to do whatever is in my power to help those affected by the affliction as well as to try and prevent it through education and awareness. I can tell you with absolute certainty that there is no greater advocate for the recovery and well-being of those lives affected by problem and compulsive gambling in our state than Pat Fowler.”
Said David Griffin, a former Florida Lottery secretary, in his letter of recommendation: “Under Pat’s leadership, the Florida Council on Compulsive Gambling (FCCG) has developed programs for law enforcement and criminal justice professionals; for veterans and in-service military and their families; and for incarcerated youth and elementary through college students. In short, Pat has been a tireless advocate for the issue of compulsive gambling for 25 years.”
The Florida Council on Compulsive Gambling is a not-for-profit independent corporation, under contract with state government. The council states its mission is to increase public awareness about problem and compulsive gambling and to furnish supports to persons in need of assistance.
She is photographed here with Keith Whyte, executive director of the National Council on Problem Gambling.