Park County Declines State’s Funding Offer to Combat Gambling Issues

Powell Tribune reported that on Wednesday, March 22, 2023, the commissioners of Park County in Wyoming unanimously decided to decline the Wyoming Department of Health’s offer of $32,141 to address problem gambling. 

Park County Commissioners Unanimously Reject Department of Health’s Offer to Combat Problem Gambling

Wyoming lawmakers recently legalized online sports betting, and the state requires operators to pay 10% of their revenues. The state then allocates the first $300,000 each year to the Department of Health, which then distributes it to county health programs to prevent and treat problematic gambling behavior.

The Department of Health defines problem gambling as the inability to resist the urge to gamble, even when there are negative consequences. It affects about 1% of Americans, and extreme cases can lead to financial ruin, legal issues, job loss, family separation, and even suicide.

The state funding allocated to address the problem is based on the adult population of each county. Although Park County received its share of the $600,000 pot for fiscal years 2022 and 2023, the commissioners decided to decline the offer after consulting with attorneys and health providers.

Commissioner Overfield clarified that Park County already receives several other grants from the Department of Health, which are utilized for Healthy Park County initiatives.

Millions in the US Are Affected by Gambling Addiction

Every year, millions of adults in the United States are affected by severe gambling addiction, while millions more have mild to moderate problems, according to the American Association for Problem Gambling. The insidious nature of gambling addiction makes it a particularly troublesome issue, as it can impact individuals of all ages, genders, and socioeconomic backgrounds.

Research from Mindful Brain indicates that a significant portion of individuals with gambling disorder also suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), putting them at a heightened risk for other mental health issues like depression, anxiety, and substance abuse. 

According to the International Journal of Mental Health and Addiction, various factors can increase a person’s vulnerability to developing a gambling addiction, such as peer pressure, early exposure to gambling, and certain personality traits. Additionally, rare cases involve medications that have side effects leading to compulsive behaviors, like gambling. 

Unfortunately, the social stigma around gambling disorder often leads to individuals hiding their condition and not seeking help, as noted by the Journal of Gambling Studies.

Help is available for those at risk of gambling addiction through hotlines and support services. These resources provide assistance to individuals, as well as concerned loved ones, to address and overcome issues related to gambling.