Like most other states these days, Kansas has taken the plunge into casino gambling. The casinos haven’t been built yet, but officials are already getting worried about the rise in the number of gambling addicts they know will soon follow.
A 2004 study by GVC Marquette for the Wichita Downtown Development Corp. concluded that a Wichita casino could produce 5,200 to 7,800 pathological gamblers within 50 miles of the city.
According to Duane Olberding, clinical coordinator at the Recovery Center at St. Francis Health Center in Topeka and past president of the Kansas Coalition on Problem Gambling, the state will need a significant increase in the number of counselors to deal with the social problems created by more accessible gambling venues.
“For one thing there’s a high probability of suicide, so you have to be monitoring that all the time,” he said. “A lot of crisis intervention is done, bringing family in, getting the patient off credit cards and bank accounts. And you have to know about the law because they’re usually in legal trouble.”
Cases exist in Kansas where addiction to gambling has led to murder, embezzlement and many other crimes.
Bankruptcies, lost job productivity, spousal and child abuse are other costs to society, counselors said.
If the state already knows that increased gambling will have this kind of negative impact on its citizens, then why is it actively promoting it? States used to outlaw this sort of activity precisely because of these deleterious effects. Now it officially sanctions it? I don’t get it.
Of course, the state is merely responding to the wishes of a sizable element of the electorate who love to play the slots and tables. In the end, no amount of legislation is going to prevent the people from doing what they want to do.
It’s a sad commentary on the condition of our national psyche.