By Anne Meyer
KWCH 12 Eyewitness News
5:53 PM CST, February 16, 2012
It's been open less than two months, but already the Kansas Star casino has paid out more than $6.2 million. That success has some concerned about an increase in problem gamblers
The Kansas Star casino now has 85,000 player's club members from 47 states. 2 million people are expected to try their luck there by the end of 2012, which has some therapists concerned.
"Usually we hear 3 to 4% of the population will have problem gambling," said Patricia Fields with the Wichita Problem Gamblers Task Force.
Based on Kansas's population, that could mean 114,000 problem gamblers. But Fields says this isn't a new problem for our state.
"There's bingo, lottery, so the issue of problem gambling has always been here," Fields said.
Fields is the head of the Wichita Problem Gamblers Task Force. She's one of 13 certified therapists in Wichita trained to treat problem gamblers. Those services are free for those in need, because of money collected from casino profits.
"Two percent of that revenue has been legislated to be set aside specifically for prevention, for advocacy, for treatment," said Fields
But the free counseling isn't just for problem gamblers and their families. Friends and neighbors may also qualify because its believe the therapy may help them help the problem gambler.
Already treatment centers in both Sedgwick and Sumner counties are seeing an increase in calls. Therapists expect that trend to continue, as more people visit the casino.
Therapists need to go through 60 hours of training to be certified in treating problem gambling. There are 67 certified therapists in Kansas already, and that number is expected to grow
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