Tribal Economic Impact 2018 - Page 11

WinStar World Casino and Resort. Photos by Brent Fuchs BY SARAH TERRY-COBO THE JOURNAL RECORD OKLAHOMA CITY – Wiley Harwell said the state needs more money to help treat people with a gambling addiction. Oklahoma’s casino revenue is third in the nation, and one of his biggest challenges is awareness of gambling- addiction help resources. More money could help expand services and help treat many more people, said Harwell, executive director for the Oklahoma Association for Problem and Compulsive Gambling. All of the $1 million the state’s mental health agency receives from gaming and from the lottery goes to mental health treatment services, so there isn’t money to spare on advertising. His organization has a contract with the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services to do counselor certification training and manage the problem gambling help line. Nearly two-thirds of his referrals come from the casinos. He can’t afford a billboard to for a public service announcement for the problem gambling hotline. “Count the billboards on I-40 from Oklahoma City to Shawnee (where the Grand Casino is),” Harwell said. “There are 14 to 17 going one way to advertise casinos and not one billboard to promote the gambling help line. Those are the things we need: prevention and awareness.” Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services Commissioner Terri White agreed. Of the $330 million appropriation her agency receives annually, only about $1.5 million goes to gambling addiction. “The gap is significant,” White said. “Obviously, if we had more money to dedicate to gambling