Senate Finance advocates putting $2 million into gambling programs | NevadaAppeal.com

Senate Finance advocates putting $2 million into gambling programs

The Nevada Senate Finance Committee on Friday recommended passage of a bill that will put $2 million in slot machine taxes into programs to help gambling addicts.

SB357 creates a commission that would make grants to gambling-recovery programs. It would be funded by taking $1 per slot machine per quarter from the slot licensing fees collected by the state next year and $2 per machine per quarter the following year.

That would generate an estimated $822,000 in 2006 and $1.6 million in 2007.

The tax would sunset, or end, after that.

Gaming industry representatives backed the program as did several recovering addicts including former Carson Access Television director Craig Swope.

Swope told the committee during the hearing on SB357 his gambling addiction cost him his job, nearly broke up his family and won him a felony conviction. He was sentenced to 180 days in jail after turning himself in and ordered to repay nearly $500,000 embezzled from the public TV operation.

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He said the most common reaction from friends and family was “Why didn’t you just stop?”

“The number one problem facing the addicted gambler is denial,” he testified in April.

He said he is now recovering.

Rob Hunter, who operates the largest gambling treatment center in the state, said a 2000 study estimated 6.4 percent of adults in Nevada have a gambling problem. He said there are numerous programs for drug and alcohol addiction but no real support for gambling-addiction programs.

Bill Bible, of the Nevada Resort Association, said the industry supports SB357. Several casino officials, including a spokesman from Harrah’s, said they financially support such programs now.

One part of the bill allows the commission to seek and accept contributions to support gambling treatment programs.

The bill goes to the Senate floor for a vote next week.

n Contact reporter Geoff Dornan at gdornan@nevadaappeal.com or 687-8750.

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