Two members of the Virginia General Assembly want to form a problem gambling treatment committee as Virginia casinos open and more sportsbooks go live.
Virginia state Sen. Bryce Reeves (R-Spotsylvania) and Del. Paul Krizek (D-Mount Vernon) introduced HB1465. They want to pass and send Gov. Glenn Youngkin a bill to create a Problem Gambling Treatment and Support Advisory Committee.
The Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services would oversee the group.
“As Virginia moves forward with the expansion of gaming, it’s important that we understand the ills that come with it,” Reeves said in a Dec. 27 announcement. He continued:
“We must focus our attention on Virginians who struggle with gambling addiction. Delegate Krizek and myself are excited to announce our bipartisan effort to ensure that our Commonwealth’s gaming regulations properly reflect the much-needed funds for problem identification, gambling addiction education, and treatment.”
About the problem gambling treatment committee
The Virginia lawmakers want a committee that:
- Will match prevention and treatment providers with Virginia’s legal gaming operators. Together, they would work to reduce the adverse effects of problem gambling and
- Includes stakeholders. The Problem Gambling Prevention Coordinator in the state’s behavioral health department would have the gavel at hearings.
The state and national gaming industry have taken steps to promote responsible betting. Examples include a gaming pact among Virginia sportsbook operators and the responsible gifting campaign.
Stats tell Del. Krizek more work needs to be done. He mentions:
- the recent opening of temporary casinos
- sports betting
- historical horse racing (HHR) machines
- and online Virginia Lottery plays as examples.
“As more gaming opportunities are legalized and expanded in Virginia, we must prioritize protecting Virginians from gambling addiction, especially young people,” he said.
“We know from prevention research that people who begin gambling in their teens are at a higher risk of developing a problem with gambling and that one of the fastest growing groups to have gambling problems are young adults.”
Reeves and Krizek cited a 2021 VA Youth Survey as part of their announcement a week ago.
- 21% of high school students say that they had gambled or placed a bet in the past year
- 64% of young adults aged 18-25 have gambled in the past 30 days.
The lawmakers behind HB1465 have worked together in the past. They passed SB 366 and HB 571 to raise the HHR machine betting age limit from 18 to 21 years old.
Resources available for Virginia gamblers
As Krizek said, games of chance have never been so accessible.
However, when gambling becomes a problem, help is available. And it comes in many forms.
The Virginia Council on Problem Gambling has a wide range of options. Most notably, the council has teamed up with the VA Lottery for a confidential and free 24-hour helpline: (888) 532-3500.
More information on the self-exclusion program can be found on the VA Lottery’s website as well.
Finally, the National Council on Problem Gambling is a great resource.