Salem advocate honored for work in problem gambling

Boston, MA — Marlene Warner, a 20-year resident of Salem, Massachusetts, received the Monsignor Joseph Dunne Lifetime Award for Advocacy at the National Council on Problem Gambling’s (NCPG) 36th Annual Conference held in the Boston Seaport. 

The national achievement is given to an individual who has dedicated at least 20 years of their career to improving the lives of problem gamblers and their loved ones through advocacy, research, training, and public awareness. The award’s namesake, Monsignor Joseph Dunne, was a former New York Police Department chaplain and addictions counselor who founded NCPG. 

Warner is recognized widely as an industry trailblazer. She has served at The Massachusetts Council for Gaming and Health (MACGH) for over 20 years, including 11 as its Executive Director. In remarks, she was lauded for spearheading a data-driven model of problem gambling advocacy and services that have transcended beyond Massachusetts to reach national and global audiences. Warner’s recognition also included her efforts in developing innovative programming as gambling increasingly moves digital. 

“I’ve been privileged to learn from and collaborate with amazing mentors, policymakers, and fellow advocates over the years. This award goes out to them,” shared Warner. “Together, we’ve made a significant impact to help mitigate the harms of gambling and gaming in our communities.” 

Warner has been critical in building and upholding the Commonwealth’s pro-public health reputation. Her advocacy secured consumer protections in the 2011 Expanded Gaming Act, which has supported problem gamblers and their families across the region. 

More recently, Warner helmed MACGH’s shift to a remote Voluntary Self-Exclusion program, the first of its kind in North America. Bay Staters looking to remove themselves from the floors of state casinos can now do so through secure, online platforms. Warner has also been a vocal champion in addressing the concerning surges of gaming disorder, also known as video gaming addiction, in kids, teens, and adults. She has been a top advocate for expanded safeguards as the Massachusetts state legislature deliberates the expansion of gambling with sports betting by their July 31 deadline. 

As part of the honor, Warner will deliver a special keynote presentation on her career at the 2023 NCPG Annual Conference in Washington D.C.