Problem gambling Bill yet to be debated

Problem gambling body does not support expansion of gambling but acknowledges provisions in poker and skill gaming bill

Senator Robert Menendez's S 1597 Internet Poker and Games of Skill Regulation, Consumer Protection, and Enforcement Act has been acknowledged by the National Council on Problem Gambling for its provisions on funding problem gambling bodies. S. 1597 allocates $200 000 per year for awareness, $4 million per year for research, and $10 million per year for treatment.

In his bid to legalise skill games like online poker, Senator Menendez included a proposal that an annual $14.2 million be set aside over a five-year period for problem gambling awareness, treatment and research, a provision which NCPG executive director Keith Whyte acknowledged as "responsible." Whyte emphasised that he was in no way supporting any expansion of gambling.

The problem gambling provision is a reflection of HR 2906, the Comprehensive Problem Gambling Act of 2009 introduced by Congressmen Jim Moran, Lee Terry, and Frank Wolf earlier this year with the support of the NCPG. The bill has yet to be debated on the floor.

Whyte explained, “We’re pleased that there’s a responsibility to mitigate problem gambling and we’re glad it’s the language from HR 2906. However, this would still only be the first ever federal funding for prevention and treatment programs. There is a lot more language in our House bill than what Menendez added. It’s not the entire bill.”

Whyte revealed that, although remaining opposed to any expansion in gambling, his organisation had asked Senator Menendez to introduce a companion bill to HR 2096, focused on problem gambling, in the Senate.

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