Northstar Problem Gambling Alliance (NPGA), Minnesota affiliate to the National Council on Problem Gambling, is a non-profit, gambling-neutral organization dedicated to improving the lives of Minnesotans affected by problem gambling. NPGA is a coalition of individuals and organizations sharing the belief that problem gambling is a serious public health problem that is both treatable and preventable.
NPGA works to raise public awareness about problem gambling and the stigma that’s often associated with it. We advocate for funding for treatment programs and provide professional training for those who work with problem gamblers. The collective impact of our efforts helps individuals, their families and their communities deal with the devastating effects of problem gambling.
As a 501 (c)(3) nonprofit organization, NPGA is funded by membership fees, financial and in-kind donations, and state and private grants. A considerable portion of our funding comes from the state of Minnesota and from major corporate sponsorships from the Minnesota Lottery, Canterbury Park, the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe and the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community.
The Northstar Problem Gambling Alliance is a non-profit organization dedicated to improving the lives of those affected by problem gambling through advocacy, education, training and research.
We achieve this by:
- bringing together those with a professional or personal interest in problem gambling,
- providing complete, accurate and unbiased information,
- advocating for public policies that assist problem gamblers and their families,
- raising public awareness of problem gambling,
- identifying those whose professions might bring them in contact with problem gamblers and their families, and educating those professionals on appropriate interventions,
- advocating for, conducting and disseminating research that furthers our understanding of problem gambling, and
- developing, delivering and supporting programs to prevent problem gambling.
NPGA works toward our vision by upholding these core values:
- Neutrality – We are neither for nor against legalized gambling.
- Accuracy – We strive to ensure that all information we provide is accurate and complete.
- Compassion – We recognize that problem gambling does not result from moral failings and that those with a gambling problem are not inherently bad people.
- Inclusion – We believe that the interests of those affected by problem gambling are best served by inclusion of a wide range of interests. These interests include, but are not limited to, those in recovery, family members, treatment professionals, the gambling industry, those having professional contacts with problem gamblers, and those in other helping professions.
SERVICES WE OFFER
NPGA’s mission is to improve the lives of those negatively impacted by problem gambling. We keep in contact with state and national legislators to provide information focused on protecting all those who choose to gamble. We work to strengthen consumer protections, communicate the societal impact of gambling expansion and emphasize the need to include funds for further research, prevention and treatment. We also advocate within the state agency of the Minnesota Department of Human Services to ensure the state is up to date on industry trends and treatment certification, and that gambling addiction gains parity with other addictions within the behavioral health division.
NPGA exhibits and presents at dozens of professional conferences around the state of Minnesota, providing us opportunities to speak one-on-one with mental health and substance abuse providers. We also present to numerous community groups to provide basic information regarding problem gambling and to offer support to those who may have a family member who has a gambling disorder.
We produce a quarterly newsletter, employ social media and produce written articles for submission in other addiction publications. We target the general public, health professionals and legislators. We also produce symposiums, webinars, an annual conference and promote the efforts of trusted sources to provide the latest information on new research, industry trends, treatment best practices and gambling’s relationship with other addictions.
As a membership organization, we firmly believe in the power of the voice. By bringing together all stakeholders with a touchpoint to gambling, we fully understand the complexities of gambling and its impact on a small, but nonetheless significant, percentage of the population.
NPGA conducts research on a range of important topics to provide greater understanding of this addiction.
Through our Speaker’s Network, a gambling addiction professional visits mental health and social services programs and introduces the topic of problem gambling and gambling addiction to staff. These visits can be arranged anywhere in Minnesota and are free. The purpose is to educate professionals who are not gambling specialists to the basics of gambling addiction as well as alert them to assessment, referral and treatment options available throughout the state.
To learn more or to arrange a visit, contact NPGA Executive Director Susan Sheridan Tucker or call (612) 424-8695.
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SUSAN SHERIDAN TUCKER
Susan Sheridan Tucker is the Executive Director of Northstar Problem Gambling Alliance. She’s been with the organization since 2018. Susan was recently elected to serve on the National Council on Problem Gambling Board of Directors. Over the past 30 years, Susan’s career has focused on nonprofit management, building organizations and advocating for those with diminished voice or power. In the short time that Susan’s been involved with problem gambling, she’s learned a great deal about gambling disorder and the gambling industry and sees tremendous opportunities for improving the delivery system of care. Susan is also intrigued by the movement to emphasize healthy play for all. One of Susan’s hopes is for mental health and behavioral health providers to receive significant training on gambling disorder and to integrate their care plans to reflect this highly prevalent co-occurring morbidity.
Tiffany did her training at NPGA in a mask during the summer of 2020, following in Linda’s steady footsteps on her retirement. Before her time at the Alliance, she was Director of Operations for Mongabay, an international environmental news nonprofit, helping grow the organization from a staff of two to a global staff of over 50 in just a few short years. Tiffany has worked and volunteered at a handful of organizations across the country and holds a master’s degree in nonprofit management from Hamline University.
Sunny has served as the Executive Director of the Lao Assistance Center of Minnesota since 2001 and has been working with fellow refugees in Minnesota and across the U.S. as a Youth Specialist since 1991. In addition to his service at Northstar, Sunny also serves on the Minnesota Compulsive Gambling Advisory Committee, the Minneapolis Human Rights Commission and the Asian Pacific Health Consortium.
A cofounder of Northstar in 2001, Don has served as a board member since the organization’s inception. Additionally, Don served on the board of the National Council for Problem Gambling for 14 years, including two years as president. He began working on gambling policy in 1984 – during the Perpich administration – and though now retired from full-time work, continues to consult.
Marie is a public affairs strategist at the Minnesota Lottery and a member of the Lottery’s Responsible Gambling Task Force. The Minnesota Lottery became one of the founding corporate members of the Northstar Problem Gambling Alliance in 2001. Marie has represented the Minnesota Lottery on the Northstar Board since January 2018.
Michael has been with Canterbury Park in Shakopee, Minnesota since 2000, and has served as their Vice President of Casino Operations since 2009. He opened and managed the card room for the Suquamish tribe in the Seattle area from 1996-2000, and worked in both poker and table games in Las Vegas from 1988-1996. Michael has served on the NPGA Board since 2004.
(MEMBER AT LARGE)
Jeff is a compulsive gambler in recovery since 2011. In his professional life, Jeff has been a teacher and currently works with businesses to provide skill development for employees. He has also facilitated numerous programs for Gamblers Anonymous and looks at service as an important part of his recovery. Jeff joined the Northstar board in 2020 and is particularly interested in bringing together diverse stakeholders in the problem gambling community.
Lou joined the Northstar Problem Gambling Alliance board in 2020 as a compulsive gambler in recovery, with the support of Gamblers Anonymous, since 2003. He is motivated to help fellow Minnesotans who struggle with problems related to gambling. Lou has been a licensed attorney since 1980.
Marsha has served as lead communications and community relations counsel to the Minnesota Indian Gaming Association (MIGA) since 1991. She joined the Northstar board in 2015, where she represents MIGA and their contributions to NPGA’s special projects, including the annual statewide problem gambling conference and an annual media campaign highlighting National Problem Gambling Awareness Month (March).
Allen is the executive director of Allied Charities of Minnesota (ACM). ACM is a 501(c)(6) trade association that represents the licensed gaming charities in Minnesota that offer pull tabs, bingo and raffles to raise funds for the communities and missions.
Mary is a St. Paul attorney who practices in the area of regulatory compliance and gaming. She is a strong proponent of responsible gaming programs and uses the knowledge and experience she has gained from Northstar to educate other lawyers, gaming operators and gaming vendors on the issue of problem gambling.
John is the CEO of The Rubicon (formerly The Crossroads Aftercare Program). He joined the Northstar board because he is passionate about bringing attention and support to people who struggle with problem gambling in Minnesota.
(MEMBER AT LARGE)
Before retiring in 2020, Mike served as CEO of Project Turnabout/Vanguard for ten years. Before that, he was the executive vice president of all treatment services at Hazelden. He has worked in the field of treating addictive illnesses for 42 years.
Randy is a clinical psychologist and retired faculty member from the University of Minnesota Medical School. He has conducted research on problem gambling and gambling disorder in both youth and adults. His research has been published in scholarly journals and monographs. He has been a board member since the inception of Northstar and continues to conduct research projects that help to fulfill the mission of the organization.
Laura is a mental health professional with experience in children, family, individual and group psychotherapy. Her background includes providing and managing crisis services across the state and nation. She serves on the board because of her belief that problem gambling is treatable and that Northstar’s programs can help bring hope to affected families.
Northstar’s strategic plan was approved by the board of directors in April, 2019. The final plan details six major organizational goals and 19 key strategies.
The goals identified in the process look out 10-15 years and will require strong partnerships to achieve. These goals include:
- Fewer Minnesotans become problem gamblers.
- Minnesotans experience fewer negative consequences from problem gambling.
- Minnesotans view problem gambling as a public health issue.
- There is adequate funding to prevent and reduce problem gambling.
- Minnesotans can access appropriate treatment, aftercare.
- NPGA is the go-to source for information, resources on problem gambling, responsible gambling.
Key strategies to help advance goals will take 3-7 years to complete or maintain. These strategies include:
- Obtain stable state funding
- Fund priority efforts
- Ensure NPGA is fiscally stable
- Ensure plan adherence
- Align staff composition and work to key priorities
- Be source of best practices for treatment and aftercare
- Maintain reputation as content and policy expert
- Influence policy positions and efforts on problem gambling
- Educate people about problem gambling and prevention
- Facilitate access to appropriate information and services
- Be source of best practices for prevention
- Lead a strong coalition of problem gambling stakeholders
- Develop statewide problem gambling prevention plan
- Leverage coalition to close gaps in continuum of care
- Partner to ensure underrepresented communities are served
- Advocate for increased funding for research, prevention and treatment
- Facilitate training delivery to targeted audiences
- Ensure policies place problem gambling on par with other addictions
- Advocate with legislators about problem gambling as public health issue