Problem gambling gets less than sought by Sisolak |

Problem gambling gets less than sought by Sisolak

Lawmakers Friday voted to reduce what the governor sought for the problem gambling program by more than half and rejected the idea of earmarking Gaming revenue to pay for it.

The program handles not only treatment for problem gamblers but research into the problem officials say have grown exponentially.

Its current budget is $1.4 million a year. But the governor recommended $4.7 million for 2020 and $4.8 million for 2021 — tripling the budget.

Until now, the revenue source for problem gambling programs has been $2 added to each annual slot machine license. But since there are fewer and fewer slot machines in the state due to the proliferation of multi-denominational machines, that source is no longer adequate. The governor’s recommendation was to instead earmark a portion of gaming fee revenues for the program.

Assemblywoman Maggie Carlton, D-Las Vegas, and Sen. Ben Kieckhefer, R-Reno, both objected to that recommendation saying they oppose the idea of earmarking gaming money for problem gambling and to earmarking in general.

Kieckhefer said lawmakers should appropriate the necessary money from the General Fund because that’s the Legislature’s job.

Carlton said she would be comfortable with $2 million a year and review the program going forward.

The subcommittee of Senate Finance and Assembly Ways and Means approved $2 million a year in General Fund money to support problem gambling programs but authorized the program managers to use the funds as best they see fit and then report to the Interim Finance Committee on how the money was spent and what it accomplished.

That recommendation goes to the full money committees.