Since a casino opened up in South Central Kansas, addiction counselor Stephenie Roberts says there have been consequences.
"We've had people in our community who have committed suicide, so that's the most devastating," Roberts says.
She says gambling addiction leads to more suicides than any other addiction.
Roberts says the new awareness campaign unveiled at the State Capitol-- encouraging Kansans to know their limits and get help if they need it--is a good thing. As chair of the South Central Kansas Problem Gambling Task Force, Roberts and others have been after the state to spend more money on efforts like this.
The Problem Gambling and Addictions Grant Fund is supposed to amount to two percent of state-owned casino profits. Roberts says that should be about $10 million this year, but the legislature only appropriated $3 million. Roberts says state officials claimed there wasn't a need to spend more.
"It's been siphoned off for the last several years, when that money could have been laying a very broad foundation of protection for the community," Roberts adds.
Kansas statute directs that problem gambling funds be used to fund treating "other addictions." Kansas Statutes, Chapter 79 Taxation/Statute 79-4805 states, "Moneys in the problem gambling and addictions grant fund may be used to treat alcoholism, drug abuse and other addictive behaviors."
Angela de Rocha, Kansas Department of Aging and disability services, said both research and first-hand experiences show that most problem gamblers have a co-occurring disorder.
According to the 2013 Kansas Problem Gambling Treatment Enrollment Survey , nearly half of Kansans enrolled in the gambling programs also struggled with substance abuse. Sixty-three percent of those said alcohol was the primary substance.
Still, Roberts said this year's larger effort is an improvement. Right now, the campaign is focused on radio, billboards and print ads. Click here to find out more