NATIONAL GAMBLING IMPACT STUDY COMMISSION
MR. MILILLO: Milillo.
CHAIRMAN JAMES: Milillo. Thank you.
MR. MILILLO: Thank you.
My name is Tony Milillo. I'm the president of the Council on Compulsive Gambling of Pennsylvania.
We have been doing our best to meet the needs of problem gamblers in the State of Pennsylvania by providing a help line, educating health care workers, and general community about compulsive gambling, and building a coalition of supporters since 1983.
The help line recently received a boost in callers and support. The state lottery in Pennsylvania donated money to our help line and began listing the phone number in their lottery tickets. In the first month of December, the phone calls alone increased from 200 to 4,500, and the expenses increased from $70 to $1,700.
For two years the council has hosted a conference for health care professionals, government, gaming industry employees, school counselors, and compulsive gamblers. A copy was given to your Committee.
The forum was for exchange of information and ideas about diagnosis, treatment, and public policy issues.
The council seeks support from the gaming companies that are committed to responsible gaming. In Pennsylvania, Seven Circles Resorts, Epic Horizon, and the racing industry; those who reached out from New Jersey, are Harrah's, Trump Casinos, Bally's, and Caesar's. They support our council by donating time and money to help with our operating costs, conferences, and help line.
We realize that these companies do not have an open wallet. They are limited, and we thank them for our interest in our citizens.
A low estimate of the number of compulsive gamblers in Pennsylvania is about 360,000, with many of this population being teenagers. Our teenagers are seeing messages: don't smoke. Don't drink. Say no to drugs.
Concerning gambling, they hear: you must play every day to win.
Some of our schools have carnivals, and some of our high schools and colleges have casino nights. That's for our students.
Another issue of our concern is treatment centers who did take an interest in compulsive gambling have closed. Professionals who wanted to get involved in compulsive gambling see no advantage because insurance companies do not cover compulsive gambling even though the DSM-3 and DSM-4 in 1980 included compulsive gambling as a treatable disorder.
Our council realizes that no one has the right to tell an adult how to spend your entertainment dollars. It would be foolish and time consuming to try and do so, but we are concerned that education on compulsive gambling are lacking.
Many of our citizens don't even realize that it is an addiction and there is help.
CHAIRMAN JAMES: Mr. Milillo, thank you so much, and we will read the rest of that as a part of our deliberations.