NATIONAL GAMBLING IMPACT STUDY COMMISSION
MS. FRANKLIN: Yes. Good afternoon. Thank you for allowing me to testify.
My name is Joanna Franklin. I'm the Executive Director of the National Council on Problem Gambling. We are a neutral group taking a stand neither for nor against gambling. We work to serve as advocates for problem gamblers and their family members. Our organization has been in existence since 1972. We have 34 different state affiliates, plus representatives from Canada and Puerto Rico and international associations.
Our main concerns in terms of the Commission's work is very much the research end of things. I'm often painfully aware of the inadequacies of the scientific information that's available for us and also very proud of our attempts to try and investigate issues like teen gambling, prevalence issues, crime, treatment needs of different populations, specialty needs of minority populations, and the list goes on and on.
We're often very frustrated with government offices, federal government offices, ignoring our request for avenues of information dissemination in terms of prevention and education. We've often gone to the drug and alcohol arm of the federal government and been pointed to mental health. We got to mental health and then are pointed back to drug and alcohol, leaving many of our people, the gamblers and their family members that suffer by way of this concern, without the attention and the support services that they need.
It's very difficult for me to understand how 33, 35, 36 different state governments can have lotteries in place and less than a handful of those states use a portion, a tiny fraction of one percent of that lottery revenue to fund treatment, education, prevention, and help line services for the citizens in their different states.
I'm from Maryland. We had the proud tradition of being able to say we were the first state in this country to offer funds for treatment for gamblers and their family members. In the mid-'80s, we lost those funds. We did more treating than we did lobbying in order to keep those funds, and the state government saw fit to put their money elsewhere, and we have not been able to get it back.
The irony of it is, for many of the people in my field, is that much of the funding that we depend on to run a national help line, to run training programs, to produce prevention materials, comes from corporate agencies that are casino agencies, that are some government agencies, and that are people that are supportive of that gaming avenue of things.
We're very interested in a balance of information. We're very interested in being able to serve the agencies you charge with research to provide them with the resources we have from a collection of experts around the world, hoping that their beginning efforts to try and understand this disorder can move on to real factual evidence that will lead us to productive places to serve that minority of the population that has a difficulty with gambling as an avenue and desperately needs a lot of help and attention.
Thank you for your attention, and we look forward to working closely with you.
CHAIRPERSON JAMES: Thank you.