PA Forms Plan To Treat Problem Gamblers
With slot-machine gaming coming to Pennsylvania, the state is developing programs to help those with gambling addictions according to an article in today's Patriot-News newspaper.
Local officials are eager for help from the state before the opening of the first slots parlors, which is expected next year.
The state Gaming Control Board is establishing a program to deal with compulsive gambling. The state Department of Health's Bureau of Drug and Alcohol Programs is developing a statewide system of certified counselors to treat those with gambling problems.
Gene R. Boyle, director of the bureau, concedes that there is much to do. He is working with a budget of $1.5 million for gambling-addiction programs statewide.
"We are certainly planning and taking a hard look at how we are going to certify counselors and what facilities are going to be providing those services," Boyle said.
Plans call for a 24-hour hot line for problem gamblers, public education and training about pathological gambling.
County human service agencies that likely will have to treat those with gambling addictions are eager for state training for their counselors.
"I think the Health Department needs to begin to roll out some training related to gambling addictions, so that people in the substance-abuse field can get certified, or at least get enough training to recognize these folks when they come through the treatment door," said Smittie Brown, executive director of the Dauphin County Executive Commission on Drugs and Alcohol.
The commission is likely to end up as a referral agency for the state, Brown said. He said that none of the service providers he knows of have qualified counselors to deal with gaming addictions.
Approved by Gov. Ed Rendell and the Legislature last year, the slots gaming law authorizes 14 casinos to operate in Pennsylvania.
And a side article here discussing the addictive nature of slot play.
John's Comments: As Pennsylvania has absolutely no certified counselors in the state, much less any treatment centers, there is a lot of work to be done here. But I am glad to see at least a start.