Including funding for problem gambling should be a priority of new bills that expand gambling. Unfortunately, problem gambling is not important and funding is most often completely ignored.
But why is it important to fund problem gambling programs and what would funding do for the infrastructure that addresses problem gambling?
Well, here’s my vision:
One of the most important things funding would do for problem gambling is increasing the funding for research. How bad is the problem? Is it growing? What’s the best way to administer treatment? What education campaigns work? What doesn’t work?
All of these questions and more could be answered by giving smart people the funding to do the research.
An ounce of prevention always beats a pound of cure. Funding educational campaigns that highlight the best ways to engage in responsible gambling, while also discussing the warning signs and dangers of gambling will create a consumer that is more prepared to make good decisions for themselves and look out for their family, friends, and neighbors.
Counseling & Treatment Centers
There is no perfect prevention and a percentage of gamblers will experience gambling harm or gambling disorder. Funding that allows healthcare professionals to specialize in gambling treatment would increase the success rates of recovery.
The Best Case Scenario
In my opinion, the best case scenario is that we overfund the programs and over time the research shows us that we don’t need as much funding and can cut back. If that’s the case and the programs are being underutilized, the money in the bank can be directed to other causes. It’s like having money in the bank to cover home repairs should a storm come.
However, we seem to be taking a different approach.
We are ignoring the fact that we have a leaky roof (inadequate infrastructure), crossing our fingers that it never rains any harder (problem gambling increases), and completely ignoring the fact that should anything happen, we will be unable to pay for a new roof (no funding).
I’m an optimist and would love to see blue skies and sunshine.
But I’d also like to know that I have an umbrella in my pocket should it start to rain.
And that’s exactly what funding the problem gambling infrastructure can do.