Funding Cuts Impact Outreach of Florida’s Problem Gambling Helpline

Casino Watch Focus has been reporting on the ongoing gambling expansion debate that has consumed the Florida political and financial landscape.  As lawmakers continue to focus on the politics and financial gains or pitfalls, the Florida Gambling Council is providing prospective on the real danger to Florida families. Casino Watch Focus reported that the Florida Council on Compulsive Gambling explained that legislators were ignoring the real dangers of gambling buy not adequately funding Florida’s Gambling Help Hotlines.  They pointed to some very starteling statistics on the increase in crime due to gambling as well as increased in unemployment, public assistance and even suicide rates.  Now the Council is reporting a big decline in those seeking help as a direct result of those funding cuts.  On online source explains:

The Florida Council on Compulsive Gambling’s (FCCG’s) HelpLine 1-888-ADMIT-IT,  saw a 32% drop in contacts for those seeking help with a gambling problem, marking the first year ever that contacts have decreased.   The Florida Lottery has been a primary funding source of the HelpLine and statewide awareness, education, and prevention for the past decade up until last year when funding of the HelpLine ceased.  At the same time, the Lottery reported fiscal year sales of $4.45 billion, the highest in history in Florida. In addition, Florida’s slot revenues from licensed racino’s also substantially increased, with roughly an $8.5 million bump over 2010-2011, while at the same time funding for problem gambling programing was reduced almost 40% from the previous year’s funding of $690,000.

According to Pat Fowler, FCCG Executive Director, “We’ve always known that the number of help contacts is directly tied to the level of public access to the HelpLine and information on available resources. To see such a drop in those seeking help over the past year is very concerning, since this could reflect thousands of Floridians who did not seek help simply due to a lack of awareness that help even existed.  Equally alarming are data from HelpLine callers indicating higher gambling debt, a lower income, and a greater risk of suicide in the past year.”

The Florida Council on Compulsive Gambling also released some of the specific statistics from 2011-2012.  The online source continues:

  • Suicide – Despite the decrease in contacts in fiscal year 2011/2012 from last year, the severity of the content of the calls worsened as shown by the 6% increase in those who claimed the gambler had suicidal ideations or suicidal attempts (22% up from 16% last year).
  • Debt – The average amount of debt owed due to gambling increased by $20,000 over last fiscal year ($42,471 in 10/11 to $62,513 in 11/12)
  • Income – More than one third (36%) of the gamblers cited an income range of $15,000 to  $35,000, with 15% earning less than $15,000, which for most families barring the number of children in the household is below poverty level in Florida.
  • Primary Gambling Problem – The most frequently cited primary gambling problem was:

Slots – 50%     Cards – 30%     Lottery – 11%

 For more information on the dangers of gambling, please visit CASINO WATCH & CASINO WATCH FOUNDATION

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