When the 2007 Legislature made the controversial decision to allow state-owned destination casinos, it built in a social safeguard that even gambling opponents should have been able to support: a requirement that 2 percent of the gambling revenue from those casinos go to the Problem Gambling and Addictions Grant Fund. So it’s inexplicable that the state has allocated only 9 percent of that 2 percent to help problem gamblers so far, according to testimony heard recently by the Kansas Racing and Gaming Commission, and that Gov. Sam Brownback’s fiscal 2014 budget proposal appears to entirely eliminate funds to treat problem gambling. It’s a further concern that $6.5 million of the $9 million generated for the fund so far went to Medicaid for services for other addictions. Legislative intent was clear, and a recent poll showed strong public support for using public funds to make problem-gambling treatment available and affordable. The Brownback administration needs to keep that promise.
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