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New York lags in gambling addiction help

Staff writer |
New York state government makes more off of gambling than Nevada, New Jersey or any other state. But it spends far less than its peers to fight gambling addiction.

The state now sets aside $2.2 million annually for programs to address compulsive gambling, a tiny fraction of the $3.2 billion New York takes in every year from the state lottery, racinos and off-track betting.

"It's not even close to what we need," said James Maney, director of the New York Council on Problem Gambling. "Gambling is more normalized now. It's not just the lottery or casinos. It's fantasy football. Sports betting. Internet betting. Every form of gambling has taken off, and we haven't done a great job of responding to it."

New York state has long been a behemoth of legal gambling. The state now has five tribal casinos and nine racinos. The New York Lottery generates $8 billion each year, far more than any other state. When it comes to consumer spending on lottery tickets and casinos, New York is second only to California.

Four additional casinos have been authorized for upstate. A state panel reviewing 16 different proposals is expected to make its picks this fall.

The new casinos will contribute an estimated $3.5 million a year toward gambling addiction programs, a significant funding increase which state officials say will make the state a leader in addressing the problem.

Estimates put the number of New Yorkers with a gambling problem between 660,000 and 1 million. It can lead to unpaid bills, bankruptcies, marital strife, job losses, legal troubles and suicide.

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