New York will launch a new study to find out the extent of gambling addiction in the state. The Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services (OASAS) is set to conduct a statewide survey to identify the types of societal problems brought about by the gambling explosion and what areas need more government attention.
Not Doing Enough
In February 2019, OASAS was the subject of strong criticism from state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli for its failure to assess the impact of gambling in the state for more than a decade. The last gambling addiction study was carried out 13 years ago. OASAS may have taken steps to expand problem gambling services over the years, but not enough action was made to make sure adequate treatment programs exist according to DiNapoli in his critical audit of the agency.
In a 17-page report, DiNapoli highlighted the absence of a comprehensive study to evaluate the impact of gambling throughout the state even though four commercial casinos opened in 2013. The fact that sports betting is being legalized in multiple states is yet another reason why New York should be not wasting any more time. An audit which was carried out between January 2017 and September 2018, found there wasn’t enough treatment centers catering to problem gamblers, with 40 of New York’s 62 counties lacking treatment programs.
DiNapoli said the state should be responsible for ensuring there were enough resources to deal with the rising addiction rates which could come as a result of gambling expansion. Problem gambling ruins lives and families and must be addressed state wide.
Inadequate Funding
OASAS acknowledged DiNapoli’s concern but it stressed that the timing of the recent move to conduct a statewide gambling prevalence survey has nothing to do with his comments three months ago. OASAS cited lack of funding as the main reason for not being able to conduct a comprehensive study.
Responding to the findings of the audit, the agency promised to launch a study that would look into the social impact of gambling, and would determine problem gambling needs  but only after it had enough funding.
It’s understood OASAS will make use of existing funding from the new state budget to carry out the new survey. The agency has refused to disclose how much it might pay for the survey as it has just entered the bidding process.
Last year, $5.9 million of the state budget was allocated for OASAS’ problem gambling initiatives, $2.6 million of that is being set aside for treatment services for the New York Council on Problem Gambling (NYCPG). Seven new resource centers will also open throughout the state, with each center working hand in hand with the local gambling facility in the region where it is located.
Gambling Expansion Continues
A statewide gambling study was last conducted in New York in 2006, and since then, the state has allowed massive gambling expansion, with new commercial casinos built upstate and gambling halls with slot machines also established downstate. The expansion resulted in new casinos rising in Western New York and Central New York, courtesy of Seneca Nation and Oneida Nation. New Yorkers have also been allowed to play daily fantasy sports and state lottery products were also expanded.
By the end of this year, four upstate commercial casinos and some Native Indian-owned facilities in Western New York will allow in-person sports gambling. The state is also pushing to legalize online sports betting.
Survey Results Will Help Shape OASAS Decisions
Bidders for the survey should submit their financial estimates on June 5, and the firm selected will carry out a survey of 5,000 adults from specific regions of the state. The survey should be available in both English and Spanish languages. The five-month survey will begin in January 2020, with the findings to be released in August of the same year. The latest survey will also be compared to the 2006 gambling study, in terms of geographic increases in reported cases of problem gambling.
OASAS opened 12 addiction treatment facilities throughout New York and provided additional training for private practitioners as part of efforts to expand its gambling services in the state. Based on a 2016 survey, New York is ranked 27th out of 45 US states with government-funded problem gambling services.
The results of the survey will play a vital role in identifying areas where additional treatment services are needed and where to boost problem gambling community awareness programs.

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