As previously reported, MO House Rep. David Sater wants to divert money raised for problem gamblers to fund other programs. Rick Alm of the Kansas City Star reported the views of local gambling counselors:
Kansas City area gambling counselor Keith Spare is alarmed and said the decision could cost the state more money in the long run. “If you don’t treat problem gambling there are economic consequences … the destruction of the family unit,” said Spare, director of program development at Lakewood Counseling Service in Lee’s Summit, and president of the Missouri Council on Problem Gambling Concerns.
“It is just unconscionable to do away with the loss limit and then, in the same year, do away with the minuscule amount of services that are available for problem gambling treatment in Missouri,” said Spare. “It’s not ethical or responsible.”
The Kansas City Star also reported that MO lacks the money for proper treatment, and MO has a moral mandate to protect those who are victims of problem and pathological gambling:
According to Missouri Gaming Commission data, 13,722 Missourians have self-banned themselves for life from the state’s casinos since the program, which includes free counseling and has been copied by other states, started in the mid-1990s.
Spare estimates the number of self-banned gamblers may represent no more than 20 percent of those who are in need. But he said the state didn’t have enough money now for public education and outreach programs to reach them all.
[A]round 370 individuals or families currently are in counseling, at an average cost of around $1,000 per case annually. “This money comes from gambling revenues,” added Spare. If the state is going to allow casinos, he argues that the state also has “a moral mandate” to care for and treat those harmed by the activity.