Gibbons backs funding for problem gambling at conference |

Gibbons backs funding for problem gambling at conference

Associated Press Writer

LAS VEGAS – Gov. Jim Gibbons reiterated his support for state funding to deal with problem gambling at the first ever state conference on the issue Thursday, as a funding bill was before the state Senate Finance committee.

“If I stood here and told you that approximately 6 percent of the adult population in the state of Nevada had a problem with gambling, you would expect your leadership … to take action,” he told the conference in Las Vegas. “We are doing just that.”

Bill SB 453 would extend indefinitely an annual $2 per slot machine tax given to the Nevada Council on Problem Gambling that is to expire June 30.

Over the next two years, it would amount to about $3.3 million.

“We’re doing good work and we want to make sure that people are aware that those dollars are not just being thrown at problem gamblers,” said council executive director Carol O’Hare. “Those dollars are really improving services and improving the community.”

Earlier this month, the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, released a report showing that most people who received state-funded treatment said they were doing better. From July 2005 to December 2006, 531 people were treated.

In a sample of 75 of those people, more than 80 percent said they spent less time thinking about gambling and about two-thirds said their financial situations had improved.

While the total number treated for problem gambling was small compared to the more than 100,000 in Nevada estimated to suffer from it, some experts said it was a good start.

“They’re taking good initial steps but they’ve got a long way to go,” said Keith Whyte, executive director of the National Council on Problem Gambling. He called the state’s efforts up to now “dead last” compared to other states with legalized gambling.

The percentage of adult Nevadans who suffer from problem gambling is two to three times higher than in any other state, O’Hare said.