State Budget Cuts Put Gambling Addicts at Risk

By Staff Writer

With state budgets feeling the squeeze from the weak economy, lawmakers in several states are considering eliminating programs aimed at helping gambling addicts seek therapy from rehab programs. However, advocates worry that this could leave vulnerable individuals with nowhere to turn.

For example, the state legislature in Nevada recently voted to reduce funding for gambling addiction programs by more than half. Carol O’Hare, executive director of the Nevada Council on Problem Gambling, told the Wall Street Journal that this could have major consequences for those struggling with uncontrollable urges to bet.

She said that the public doesn’t fully understand gambling addictions, and rather than being some kind of character flaw, it is actually a diagnosable mental illness for which individuals need to receive treatment in order to overcome it. The decision to eliminate funding could make it harder for individuals to receive this type of treatment.

Gambling addiction treatment services have also been cut in Oklahoma and Oregon in recent months. Rehab workers in Oregon told the Oregonian that they would have to sharply reduce the number of patients they treat for the condition.