Advocates Unhappy with Proposed Budget Cuts to Problem Gaming Services

Advocates Unhappy with Proposed Budget Cuts to Problem Gaming Services

On Wednesday, Nevada lawmakers met in Carson City for a special session of the state legislature. The lawmakers heard the viewpoint of advocates for problem gambling services, who are unhappy with the state’s budget cuts to the program.

A $1.2 billion budget shortfall

The state is eyeing a $1.2 billion budget shortfall this time. Governor Steve Sisolak is planning to take a $1.6 million amount from the state Department of Health and Human Services. This amount was earmarked for problem gaming services. Lawmakers had previously approved $2.1 million for the services. Several people expressed this discomfort with the 75% cut in funding for problem gambling programs.

Advocates Unhappy with Proposed Budget Cuts to Problem Gaming Services

Longtime MGM Resorts International executive Alan Feldman, who is also the chair of the advisory committee on problem gambling in Nevada, said that the move is “extremely troubling.” He also said that the state officials did not consult with them while making the move. He also rebutted against the DHHS claim that health insurance plans will be able to take care of problem gambling services. According to him, community health centers do not have the manpower or resources to help problem gamblers.

Feldman added,

“The state is the payor of last resort currently. No state funds can be distributed unless the treatment provider has first exhausted any private insurance or Medicaid reimbursement. In fact, only a small number of patients seeking services would qualify for Medicaid.”

Advocates ask for a smaller reduction

Problem gambling advocates said that they understand the need for a budget cut. However, they propose a 20 to 30% cut in funding, which is at par with other state programs will be facing. UNLV International Gaming Institute’s Bo Bernhard said that the state’s reputation for addressing problem gambling helps its casino companies in expanding into other states and offshore locations. He said that a disproportionate 75% cut to the funding would tarnish the state’s reputation.

Former Las Vegas Mayor Jan Jones-Blackhurst also presented her views during the session. He urged the state to maintain adequate funding to that the state program could continue providing care to the problem gamblers and also engage in important research.

About sherlock

Sherlock Gomes loves to write and express his views on anything related to Gaming, Gambling, & Casino. He has been covering Gaming for more than two years now.