Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Pittsburgh Unprepared to Deal With Gambling Addiction

Social service agencies in Allegheny County are not ready to deal with an increase in gambling addiction, according to University of Pittsburgh researchers. They’re hoping state and local officials will heed their warning before the city’s new casino opens in 2009. Pitt’s School of Social Work found more than 75% of human service providers have no one trained to treat problem gambling.

Many agencies say they don’t see it as an issue for their clients. But few providers screen people for gambling problems. Gambling addicts are also likely to have other problems, such as alcohol abuse or depression. Other human services providers say they don’t know where to refer clients with gambling problems.

Pitt researchers say agencies themselves could be more proactive. But ultimately, they believe the state is not spending enough on the problem. Pennsylvania has set aside $1.5 million per year to treat gambling addiction. That comes out to about $15 per problem gambler, according to Pitt’s estimates.

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