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21 Sep 09 Illinoi’s praise-worthy Act to fund treatment for problem gamblers

A study published in Psychological Medicine magazine that was conducted in 2008 reported an uncontrollable gambling rate of 0.6 percent and a problem gambling rate of 2.6 percent among the general U.S. population. Joanna Franklin, an expert in the area of problem gambling and President of the Institute on Problem Gambling in Baltimore, Maryland, sees that treatment rather than prohibition is the best way to treat problem gamblers. She adds, “Problem gamblers are not without options. They will go to a racetrack or casino or the Internet if they can’t find a video gaming machine.

Franklin has also set-up and done clinical treatment programs in forty-five states, thirty-one Indian tribes, ten Canadian provinces, and nine countries. Gamblers would only resort to other options with the prohibition of video gambling machines. With the unrelenting technological innovation and the Internet’s open architecture, online gambling would create a strong drawing power for gamblers, a detour behind domestic prohibitions against certain forms of gambling.

In response to this concern, there is a movement going in Congress to change Internet gambling laws in the US. Leading the campaign for a regulated Internet gambling industry is Representative Barney Frank. Franklin praised Illinois for its Video Gaming Act which provides $2.5 million to the Department of Human Resources for the funding of treatment programs for problem gamblers.

The lawmakers in Illinois have given each of the cities and towns the discretion to decide matters regarding video gambling machines. A number of towns have banned the machines while other cities looked at the financial advantage of keeping the video gambling machines. They allowed licensed liquor establishments to operate up to five gaming machines as long as the devices are situated in areas way from minors and only accessible to adults. To help fund the capital bill, twenty-five (25%) of the revenues earned by establishments from the gaming machines will go to the state while another five (5%) will go the local municipality where the gaming devices are located.

Coin machine operators have also raised opinions regarding the Act. Tom Fiedler, president of the Illinois Coin Machine Operators Association, said that gambling affects only a small percentage of the population in comparison to alcohol abuse. He added that of those adults who do gamble, the vast majority do so strictly for its entertainment value. He points out that there is nothing wrong with video machine gambling.

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