Editorial: Tribes should pay for gambling addictions

"A California Senate committee recently learned that while many of us love to gamble, quite a few suffer from addiction as casinos empty their pockets. The state's legal gambling operations make $13 billion a year — and rising -- yet such operations put no money into assisting those with gambling problems, including addiction.

The committee also learned some disturbing facts — there are 1.5 million problem gamblers and much of the state's efforts in this area center on a hot line number. Experts say there are only 15 state counselors certified to deal with pathological gambling. The state spends a paltry $3 million on the problem — to say this is inadequate is an understatement.

The state of California hasn't been a big help, either. We have too few qualified professionals to deal with gambling addicts, who often end up resorting to crime or committing suicide. And, lawmakers were so brilliant that they gave back $3 million donated by Indian casinos years ago to address problem gambling because it was never used.

California is a pacesetter in many areas, here's another where we could be. Gambling establishments in this state should voluntarily come together and make major donations toward centers and programs to help those with gambling problems. It could be a model for the rest of the nation. If the establishments hedge their bets, perhaps the state should levy a tax on these businesses, maybe draw funds from state-commissioned operations like horse racing to help those in need.

Gambling establishments have received numerous breaks on taxes and land acquisition, among other things; now it's time to show that Californians are more than just paying customers."

Get the Story:
Editorial: Casinos should pay price for gambling addictions (The California Argus 3/4)