More Money For Problem Gambling Center


A state oversight panel has freed up more state money to expand treatment programs at the overflowing Reno Problem Gambling Center.
The Health and Human Resources Problem Gambling Advisory
Committee voted Wednesday to allow the center to shift $115,000
from two other programs into its treatment budget.
The center opened last month already has a waiting list of
people seeking help for gambling addiction.
The money was originally allocated to provide financial and
family counseling for problem gamblers. But center officials asked
to divert those funds into its treatment program because of
overwhelming demand.
Dr. Robert Hunter, the psychologist who founded Problem Gambling
Center in Las Vegas and opened the Reno program in February,
earlier this week said seriously underestimated the need for
gambling addiction treatment in northern Nevada.
He said he expected it to take about three months for those in
need to find out about the program but that the first class filled
within days.
Several committee members suggested it might be more fair to
other groups that sought grant money to divide the funding among
them rather than leave it all with the gambling center.
A majority of the board voted to leave all the money with the
new Reno center after being told it is the only operation in
northern Nevada dedicated to problem gambling at this point.
Clinical Director Denise Quirk said the Southern Nevada
operation also has other revenue sources - primarily contributions
from casino corporations - that the Reno center hasn't yet had time
to develop.
She said she will be working to convince casino operators in the
Reno and Carson City areas to help because, even with the added
state funding, the center will need support to cover costs.
Wednesday's vote brings the total state funding for the Reno
center to $317,000 for this biennium.
Quirk said that is still some $70,000 short of the estimated
cost of running the center for two years.
A university study said Nevada's rate of problem gamblers is
three times higher than the nation as a whole. An estimated 6
percent of the state's adult population has gambling problems.
The state money comes from a $1 tax every quarter-year on slot
machines. Casinos agreed to the plan in the last legislative
session.
While the tax doubles next year, it goes away after that unless
lawmakers renew it in 2007.
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