New Problem-Gambling Panel Not Ready to Decide on Funding

11 October 2005

Where and how to distribute some $2.5 million in slot tax dollars earmarked for programs to prevent and treat problem gambling was not going to be decided during the initial meeting of a new state advisory committee.

The nine-member panel on problem gambling, which was created by the 2005 Legislature, collectively said Thursday they were not ready to set percentages of how funds would be disbursed.

Staff from the Nevada Department of Health and Human Services asked the committee to set priorities among the areas dealing with problem gambling, including treatment, research and prevention.

The committee decided to seek more input.

"I would be uncomfortable to say what percentage of the funds should go to a particular area without more information," said Station Casinos Chief Financial Officer Glenn Christenson, who was elected by the other eight members to chair the panel. University of Nevada Reno professor William Eadington was elected vice chairman.

Staff from the health and human services, which is administering the panel and the funds, will request information from various programs, treatment professionals, educators and others seeking grants from $50,000 to $250,000.

Sean Higgins, general counsel for Herbst Gaming, said the panel shouldn't set percentages on its first meeting.

A report to the 2007 Legislature will describe how the funds were distributed and what areas received assistance.

The panel will meet again on Nov. 7 to review requests and possibly vote on how the percentages will be divided.

The panel is the first of its kind in the state. Members, who were appointed by the governor, include gaming representatives, educators, health professionals and problem-gambling organizations.

In forming the committee, the Legislature created a slot tax with the proceeds to be used to support problem gambling initiatives.

In fiscal year 2005-06, $1 for every licensed slot machine will go into the fund; in fiscal year 2006-07, $2 from every slot machine will be collected. The state allocated $100,000 to the panel to be used for administrative expenses so the entire slot tax could be directed toward problem-gambling matters.


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