Even with a $13 million increase in public funding allocated to problem gambling services in the U.S. in the last three years, 10 states have yet to develop any such funding for these services.
District of Columbia is also among the count of those who did not develop public funding for services.
However, that also means that the reverse of that is also true. A total of 40 states developed public funding aimed at problem gambling services in 2016.
This comes from an analysis of the 2016 National Survey of Problem Gambling Services from the National Council on Problem Gambling (NPCG) and the Association of Problem Gambling Service Administrators (APGSA).
Organizations call for state participation
Terri Sue Canale-Dalman, APGSA president, said that even with the knowledge of the consequences of gambling for some people and their families, services to reduce and stop these potential issues are scarce in many states.
“Forty-eight of 50 states have organized gambling, so 48 states need to build awareness and address the human impact of gambling’s potential consequences,” she said in a release.
From 2013 to 2016, the dedicated public funding to problem gambling services increased from $60 million to $73 million. That represents a 22 percent increase.
NCPG Executive Director Keith Whyte said that the lack of funding creates a services void for those seeking help.
“The lack of any federal funding dedicated to problem gambling services continues to place an undue burden on an individual state’s capacity to serve and respond. If keeping people healthy and safe is a priority, then we should expand funding for problem gambling education and treatment, not keep cutting it.”
Currently, the federal government devotes no dedicated funding to problem gambling services.
Some states make steps forward, others step back
While Arkansas removed all public funding to problem gambling services, 25 other states increase their funding since 2013, seven kept status quo, and nine made cuts.
Comparatively, substance abuse disorders – a disorder four times more common than gambling disorders – receive about 334 times the amount of public funds.
Of those who needed problem gambling services in 2016, only 0.25 percent received publicly funded care from a specialist.
States contributed funding to these services on a state-by-state basis at various amounts ranging from $0 to $8.47 million in California.
Problem gambling budgets vary
Looking at the numbers, here’s what stands out:
- The range of per capita investments in problem gambling services across 40 states ranged from $0.01 in South Carolina to $1.46 in Delaware.
- The average per capita allocation for publicly funded services for problem gambling was $0.37.
- Keeping the 10 states without the problem gambling funding included in the per capita allocation drops the average to $0.23.
- From 2013 to 2016, the per capita funding across states with public funding grew from $0.32 to $0.37.
- In 2016, the average cost of problem gambling services (per client treatment episode) was $1,333 compared to $1,583, the average cost per client treatment episode for substance abuse in 2006.
This survey revealed a positive correlation between number of dollars gambled within a state, state revenue derived from gambling, and funding for problem gambling services.
NCPG said it this way:
“The consequence of disparate funding levels for problem gambling services across states is that there are extremely uneven levels of services for individuals with gambling problems across the country.”
The survey itself also covers questions regarding budget, staffing, program growth, cuts, and national spending. The survey acquired this information from 50 state health agencies and 33 NCPG state affiliates who were asked to participate. The report also provided profiles of problem gambling services across all 50 states.