Colorado’s Gambling Treatment and Prevention Funding Faces Heavy Criticism

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In most states that have legalized sports betting, large amounts of revenue have been collected that have benefited many. Nevertheless, there are also drawbacks to a profitable business venture, such as gambling addiction.

Colorado Has Stepped its Efforts to Combat Gambling Addiction

On Tuesday, the state stepped up its efforts to fund gambling addiction treatment programs as the Centennial State pushes for responsible gaming. However, the state faced heavy criticism due to many reasons.

According to HB22-1402, the bill would create the “Responsible Gaming Grant Program” in Colorado. It won the state House’s approval of Senate amendments by a vote of 50-15. The bill will now be sent to Gov. Jared Polis’ desk awaiting his signature.

An estimated $3 million is set to be appointed to a program instead of $130,000 per year. The original bill passed in the House on May 2nd, but the amended version passed through the Senate on May 5th.

These amendments could cause issues moving forward as those who are pushing for gambling treatment and prevention need a reliable source of funds. However, the Senate changed the wording in the bill from continuously to annually, which faced heavy criticism.

Did Lawmakers Rush the Process?

The change in funding will require reapproval of the program next year. In addition, it questions whether providers will invest if they are not sure if the program will be offered in 2023.

Keith Whyte, executive director of the National Council on Problem Gambling, stated;

“Expanding gaming in Colorado creates an obligation for the state to address the social costs that come with it,…The amendments seem to deliberately not live up to that obligation. It’s hard to conceive of a less serious, less permanent solution. We’re glad the money is there, but it’s not as effective as it could be, when it is likely to be taken away next year.”

Time may have played a factor, as Wednesday was the last day of the legislative session. The House avoided the process of the opportunity to reject the Senate’s changes to the bill that would have sent it to a conference committee.

This would have allowed both chambers to iron out their differences. Brianne Doura-Schawohl, ​​a consultant who represented the NCPG during legislative committee hearings on the bill, added;

“The speaker heard us, but in the end, politics and time won out,… This is why stakeholders that are deeply invested in these issues push these types of proposals to get the time they deserve.”

Has Colorado Failed to Make Things Right?

Whyte has continued to question the state’s legislators’ motives on this issue. He is confused as to why people are opposed to tackling gambling addiction. He also added;

“There are a number of legislators that are concerned, if Colorado really did address the scope of this issue, it would expose the amount of people not getting help. It would expose the state’s failure. The true scope of this problem is still concealed, and cynical legislators like it that way. … Some people may think that, by not addressing gambling problems, they can keep the social costs hidden.”

Whyte believes that the program has its challenges as it moves forward; however, the bill’s structure indicates that it is thinking short-term and not long-term.