Cutting the Funds

Posted on: May 2, 2011

I talked a little about problem gambling during National Problem Gambling week, but other than that, I haven’t really approached the subject. I feel that it’s important to do so now, because of new reports that states are starting to cut gambling addiction programs – and Nevada is one of the states who has cut the most out of problem gaming programs.

First of all, Nevada doesn’t have the most glowing record when it comes to problem gaming funding. In fact, up until 2006, the state hadn’t spent one penny on problem gaming programs. There were other non-profit organizations like Gamblers Anonymous that dealt with these problems, but nothing coming directly from the state. On the flip-side, by 2006, Oregon had an annual budget of $4.5 million dedicated to problem gambling services. Nevada passed a law in 2005 that would allow for the collection of $1 per slot machine in 2006 and $2 per machine in 2007 forward to fund public assistance for problem gamblers. That was a huge victory for the state in my opinion. Problem gaming is a widely under-reported and under-treated problem that wasn’t really even viewed as a legitimate mental illness until just recently and is still not accepted by the entire mental health community.

The cost of problem gambling. Click for credit...

Last year alone, Nevada cut spending on problem gaming assistance programs by more than half – from $1.7 million to a mere $600,000. This is a state who reported that almost 6% of the population has a gaming problem. That is not an insignificant number by any means. Sure, it’s likely not as high as alcohol abuse, but it is still a legitimate problem in this state. In comparison to alcohol addiction, in which 1 in 14 receive state-funded treatment, only 1 in 240 people with pathological gambling problems are treated through state-funded programs. And that will probably only get worse with these cuts.

However, this is not a problem that all states are facing. In fact, funding for gaming addiction programs in the United States is expected to rise to $56 million this year, which is an increase of about $7 million since 2008. The increase in funds can be mostly attributed to California and Pennsylvania, which have expanding gaming industries. The chart below shows funding for gambling addiction services in certain states.

What do you think a state like Nevada, who is in a devastating budget crisis, should do about funding for problem gaming programs?

Click for credit...


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This blog is devoted to the gaming industry news and information - keeping you up to date on the happenings in the gaming world. My personal expertise lies in event planning and entertainment in casinos.

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