Is enough being done to prevent gambling addiction in Virginia?


ROANOKE, Va. (WFXR) — With March being National Problem Gambling Awareness Month, the Virginia Lottery, in partnership with the Virginia Council on Problem Gambling, is pushing out information on how Virginians who feel they have a gambling problem can get help.

There’s the Virginia Problem Gambling Helpline which you can call toll-free at (888) 532-3500. Plus, there are more materials on VACPG’s website.

However, the Commonwealth has a history of not properly funding problem gambling services.

A 2016 survey from the National Council on Problem Gambling (NCPG) reports Virginia ranked 40th among all fifty states in funding problem gambling services.

“The state should manage it by providing resources to those individuals so that people’s lives aren’t inadvertently ruined,” said Dr. Warren Bickel, the Director of Virginia Tech’s Fralin Institute Addiction Recovery Center.

In Bickel’s opinion, if the state is making a profit off of gambling and state lotteries, they should be putting more resources into helping those who could be affected by gambling, especially with more opportunities coming to Virginia, whether it be casinos or mobile apps.

An awareness campaign, he says, is a good thing, but it’s psychological treatment that’s needed even more.

“Is anybody who smokes cigarettes not aware that there may be fatal consequences from long-term use of that product? Awareness may sway people that don’t have a strong inclination, but people who have a strong inclination they find a way,” Bickel said.

Individual gambling institutions, however, have their own methods for dealing with compulsive gambling behavior.

“We have ongoing training for our employees,” said General Manager of Rosie’s Gaming Emporium Ernie Dellaverson. “You know, signs to look for, people borrowing money or something along those lines, for the gaming industry (training) is a norm.”

Dellaverson says his customers at Rosie’s spend, on average, $50-$75 a visit.

It’s not the numbers you see from addictive behavior, but the GM feels it’s still necessary to provide that security to patrons.

“We are committed to our community,” Dellaverson said. “That’s part of our fabric, our culture here, and part of that is being responsible and acknowledging any type of compulsive behavior.”

Rosie’s announced an expansion January, which will add an additional 350 games to their grounds.

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