Raising the Stakes: Assessing the Human Service Response to the Advent of a Casino
This article reports the findings of one county’s human service network’s readiness to treat gambling related problems in anticipation of the opening of a new casino. Using a cross-sectional survey design, questionnaires were mailed to executive directors of all mental health, family counseling, drug and alcohol, and faith-based, addiction-related organizations in the county (N = 248); 137 (55.2%) agency directors responded to the questionnaire. The survey requested information about agency demographics, training, screening, treatment, and public awareness/education. Descriptive statistics and bivariate analyses were used to summarize the findings. The analyses revealed a lack of human service response to the impending start of casino gambling. More than three-quarters of respondents had not sent staff for training in screening or treating gambling disorders, did not screen for problem gambling, did not treat problem gambling, and did not refer clients to other agencies for treatment of gambling-related problems. The most common reason offered for not engaging in prevention and treatment activities was that problem gambling is not considered an issue for the agency. There were differences between mental health and/or substance abuse focused agencies and other service providers. Based on the findings of this study, specific strategies to enhance the service delivery network’s capacity to address problem gambling are suggested.
KeywordsGambling Casino Problem gambling Gambling social services
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