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Ways To Address Gambling Problems

Ruzanna Harutyunyan's picture

Governor Bill Richardson congratulated the New Mexico Compulsive Gambling Council for its work in researching and crafting recommendations for addressing compulsive gambling in New Mexico.

The Gambling Council recommends creating a single state oversight committee and developing a legislative strategy to create a single state fund for compulsive gambling prevention and treatment, one of several recommendations outlined in the Council’s report to Governor Richardson.

“With the Council’s research and analysis of New Mexico’s needs, we are in a better position to develop consistent, effective programs that will prevent compulsive gambling and help New Mexicans who are struggling with gambling addictions,” said Governor Richardson.

The state oversight committee would create transparency in program effectiveness and how funds are received and spent, and coordinate resources to ensure consistency among prevention and treatment programs. The committee would oversee the distribution of money from a proposed Compulsive Gambling Prevention and Treatment Fund.

“I think that the State of New Mexico has taken a giant step forward in addressing the issue of problem gambling,” said John Rinaldi, member of the New Mexico Compulsive Gambling Council. “If the recommendations are accepted and implemented, I strongly believe we can get a better handle on problem gambling in New Mexico, both from a prevention perspective as well as a treatment perspective.”

Other Gambling Council’s recommendations:

* Expand and standardize the toll-free helpline into a single statewide line for people experiencing gambling-related problems

* Implement a comprehensive prevention program for school-age children based on a successful model

* Invest in prevention programs aimed at youth and seniors

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* Fund gambling specific treatment programs and develop a treatment manual to implement new best-practice standards

* Conduct a year-long media campaign focusing on gambling prevention

* Conduct a study to update New Mexico specific gambling-prevalence data

* Develop on-line training for gaming establishment employees

* Create the Office of Problem Gambling

* Assess what the New Mexico State Lottery should contribute to gambling prevention and treatment services

* New Mexico veteran and fraternal organizations should provide to the State Fund .25 of 1 percent of the 10 percent revenue generated by veteran and fraternal organizations that are currently hosting gambling activities and are taxed.

Richardson has made compulsive gambling a priority since he created a 15-member task force in March 2005 to study how compulsive gambling affects New Mexicans and to make specific recommendations on how to improve the State’s approach to gambling problems. The taskforce recommended creating the New Mexico Compulsive Gambling Council, which is led by the Department of Health.

Since the Council formed in 2007, it has created a New Mexico Data Report Card that assesses such issues as gambling prevalence, suicides related to gambling, and bankruptcies related to gambling. It also reviewed compulsive gambling prevention efforts that target at-risk teen and adult populations, established best practice standards for prevention and treatment programs, and developed training programs for counselors and gaming industry employees.

In 2009, the Council proposed self-exclusion legislation that was passed by the New Mexico Legislature and signed by the Governor. The legislation outlines a specific process for an individual to seek self-exclusion from gambling environments in New Mexico. The Governor also signed a joint memorial recommended by the Council that asks district attorneys to place defendants in pre-prosecution diversion programs when they are accused of committing nonviolent offenses resulting from a gambling addiction.