Funds scarce – Casino Case
October 7, 2021
While caseloads have increased, the program has kept staffing at four part-time and two full-time. The program does receive some additional funding through legislative-member items and insurance reimbursements, but not much. Many clients can’t afford to pay the 50 percent copay or their insurance treats it as a mental health issue, Wert says. That’s a national problem: Most insurance policies provide only partial coverage, and that’s often because the gambling could be a byproduct of another problem says Christine Reilly, executive director of the Institute for Research on Pathological Gambling and Related Disorders at the Harvard Medical School division on addictions.
“We don’t know a lot about the disorder. There’s probably no one treatment so clinicians are out to sea,” she says. “These people bring in such different problems. They may have substance abuse problems, depression and you can’t treat the gambling without treating the others. Is the gambling a manifestation of those problems or is it the reverse?”
Schillinger is hoping to get some additional funding from a new $2 million revenue stream Gov. Pataki will make available for gambling programs through an RFP process. Jewish Family Services is collaborating with the Alcoholism Council of Niagara County Inc. and the Erie County Council for the Prevention of Alcohol and Substance Abuse on a regional response, with the two county agencies providing prevention programming and JFS providing the treatment side.
Additionally, a shift in funding will now see state funds come through the Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services (OASAS).
“They have the expertise in prevention and the networks into the schools. It doesn’t make sense for us to reinvent the wheel,” Schillinger says.
That participation with the schools is important: The fastest rising group of problem gamblers is kids right now, Schillinger says. The agency has had kids as young as 13 come for help to its program.
“These kids have bookies. It’s a huge problem,” she says.
Sharing resources, ideas
The Judi Qq agency has is also developing a Regional Center of Excellence for Gambling Addiction, which includes participation from all eight counties and quarterly case conference meetings among professionals. The group also includes professionals from Southern Ontario treatment centers, as well as private practitioners.
Wert is hopeful additional funds will come in to at least bring the region closer to the type of services offered in Ontario, where the provincial government provided $25 million last year alone to fund problem gambling prevention, treatment and education. New York provided $1.5 million total.
States need to do more about the problem, says Keith Whyte, executive director of the National Council on Problem Gambling in Washington, D.C.
“Quite simply, one problem gambler can embezzle more than the entire state’s funds at these current levels. It’s pathetic,” Whyte says.
According to the Council’s statistics, many states provide very little in the way of funding for gambling addiction services. The Council’s policy is that if a state legalizes or legitimizes gambling through compacts with tribal governments, it should also provide additional revenues of 1 percent or more of casino revenues, on top of the base level of funding.
“New York has an obligation to its citizens much like they do with other mental health disorders or diseases, like cancer or schizophrenia,” Whyte says. “Legalizing gambling has increased costs as well as benefits.”