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Opening of New Casino Ushers in Concerns Over Gambling Addiction

Updated: Tuesday, September 2 2014, 01:57 PM EDT

The opening of Horseshoe Casino in Baltimore last week ushered in a growing number of gambling options in Maryland.

State officials recently launched a campaign, a series of ads, urging people to gamble responsibly. Not all gamblers will heed the message and when they fall into addiction there are concerns about scant resources being set aside for treatment.

“The addicted gambler does not have control," gambling addiction expert Valerie Lorenz explains.

A closer look at numbers reveals that out of ten of millions in gambling impact fees, treatment funds are but a fraction. In Baltimore, the local gaming council recommended just $50,000 in spending on research, not treatment.

State Senator Bill Ferguson, who chairs the council, says they want to assess the impact of gambling addiction before dedicating funds for treatment

"The reason it was such a small amount at the beginning is because for the first year it would be hard to measure any impact because of the small amount of time,” Ferguson said.

Meanwhile, state officials are also focusing a majority of their funding on studying the problem, not on treating it. Two million dollars for ongoing studies has been slated for this year while allocating roughly $1.6 million for outreach, such as the ad campaign.

For experienced gambling addiction specialist like Lorenz, understanding the impact of gambling addiction is not the problem "I’ve had patients who have stolen huge amounts of money,” Lorenz said. “Then of course, they end up in the legal system.”

Opening of New Casino Ushers in Concerns Over Gambling Addiction

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