Just in time for the end of National Problem Gambling Awareness Month, the National Council on Problem Gambling released a statement today denouncing Senate Bill 404, which would kill the already meager funding the state sets aside to combat problem gambling through treatment programs, education and a helpline.
The bill, by Sen. Alan Clark (R-Lonsdale) is subtitled: “An Act to Increase the Amount of Lottery Revenue Available for Lottery Scholarships.” Axing funding for programs gambling addicts can turn to for help is definitely one way to do that
The legislation establishing the Arkansas Scholarship Lottery set aside $200,000 per year to create compulsive gambling treatment and educational programs in partnership with the Department of Human Services. The law also provided for the creation of a 24-hour toll-free helpline that problem gamblers or their families could call to receive information on getting help.
Clark’s bill would strike all that language from the law, reducing the amount the state spends to help gambling addicts — which was already one of the lowest per capita in the country — to zero. Since 2009, the National Council on Problem Gambling says, their gambling addiction hotline has fielded over 60,000 calls originating in Arkansas.
“To date the [Arkansas] lottery has brought in more than $2 billion, and last year the per capita sales were more than $440 dollars,” the NCPG release says. “The current state spending of about seven cents per capita is among the lowest in the nation, and SB404 would drop Arkansas to dead last.” They go on to say that the NCPG estimates that 48,000 Arkansans meet the criteria for gambling addiction.
Read the full release