New Study Shows Few Addicted Iowa Gamblers Receiving Help - News and Weather For The Quad Cities -

New Study Shows Few Addicted Iowa Gamblers Receiving Help

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A new report estimates up to 9,000 Iowans may have dealt with a gambling problem last year.

Less than 700 received treatment through the state.

At issue is less funding for programs and advertising.

The marketing campaign for 1-800 Bets ff, the problem gambling hot line, received 75 percent less money last year..

Money spent on problem gambling support has steadily decreased over the last five years.

About $4.4 million was spent on gambling addiction services back in 2009.

About $2.7 million dollars was spent on the program last year.

That's a 33 percent decline.

The state eliminated a gambling treatment fund back in 2010. Gaming taxes now go to the state's main pot of money.

As those dollars have decreased, less money is spent on treatment advertising, and less people know they can get help.

"Just the sound of those machines, going off is like a magnet, it just drags you in," says former gambling addict Barbara Wear. She had never gambled in her life and voted against legalizing riverboat gambling in Scott County in the early 90's. One night though, found Wear heading to the boat.

"I have a compulsive personality."

She started small. $20. Then $100. Eventually, gambling consumed her.

"I would get paid on Thursday, I'd cash my check, go home take a shower, go to the boat. By Friday morning I was broke," says Wear.

She'd take extra hours at Alcoa, earning more money to go to the boat. For a year and a half she chased the dream jackpot.

"I was going to give it to the church, if I hit a big enough jackpot I was going to build a church."

The jackpot never came. Instead, a vision came after visiting her son in St. Louis. His water heater broke, Wear had enough money to pay for it, but chose not to. She wanted to gamble and did so, when she got back home.

"As I was leaving, I opened the door and when I did, I seen that water heater blow up and my family was killed, I dropped to my knees and I crawled out of there throwing up and crying."

Driving the next day she saw a billboard for 1-800-bets off. She called and enrolled in treatment. The money to promote the gambling hot line has fallen off over the last few years. Problem gambling counselor Megan Vance says that leaves people without a place to turn.

"There's a lack of awareness of the treatment services that are available to someone that has an addiction," says Vance.

Without more money promoting problem gambling help, Vance worries people will feel they have nowhere to turn. Even as the state approves another casino.

"If we're building more casinos, but not recognizing the need to treat that percentage of people that develop the addiction, we're not going to have enough resources to treat it," says Vance.

Wear banned herself from the boats when she started treatment. She agrees with Vance and says the state should spend more on problem gambling treatment.

"If they help one person, that's what it's about," says Wear.

Before it costs another person what it cost her.

"It's hard to think that I gave that boat $180,000," says Wear.

It was her entire 401(k) in 18 months.

The state taxes casino earnings at 22 percent.

That money is sent to schools, roads, and debt payments.

Some also goes to gambling treatment programs, but no dedicated state fund has existed since mid 2009.

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