This complacency has bred a dangerous industry in which addiction is harder to detect and its victims – less likely to speak up. Yet, the damage overspending could have on personal lives, relationships, and finances are just as serious.
Addressing Gambling Addiction and Its Lottery Roots
Speaking to ABC News Live, Tvonia Thomas was one of the examples given as a person who may push their lottery hobby too far, with the gambling addict admitting that scratch cards have indeed “consumed” her entire life.
Specialists have now begun sounding an alarm over the subtle gambling addiction gateway that scratch-off tickets have become, with state officials in Virginia, but also elsewhere, urged to take a closer and harder look at the realities of gambling addiction that stems from lottery operations and what can be done to help the victims as well as prevent further cases.
According to ABC, the most likely group to be affected by this are low-income and minority players. Part of the blame also has to do with where the stores that sell such tickets are based – in lower-income communities in pretty much every state according to research by the Howard Center for Investigative Journalism at the University of Maryland.
Lotteries have generally enjoyed a more lenient regulatory climate owing to their direct contributions to state budgets. Usually controlled by a private operator but funnelling the bulk of their winnings to the state’s budget, these arrangements have been seen as a win-win for players, the state, and even private businesses.
Now, though, a group that calls itself Stop Predatory Gambling believes that much of this is achieved “off the backs” of low-income residents. Understandably, the lottery’s less-prominent optics has skewed the optics, with the debate shifting from scratch-off tickets to slots, sports betting, and even horse racing machines.
Yet, more needs to be done to address lottery gambling and the possible addiction that emanates from it as a comprehensive problem. Part of the problem is the lack of adequate funding for state programs that can sufficiently address the issue and help gambling addicts overcome their problems.
Does the Lottery Do Enough to Address Possible Gambling Addiction?
Although much is done by industry groups to spread responsible gambling messages, they are most interested in limiting the reach of offshore and illegal gambling operations. Critics of lottery gambling want to see more funds allocated to funds and programs that are directly fighting gambling addiction, as responsible gambling messages alone will not cut it.
Virginia has responded to ABC’s report, though, and has said that it has a proven track record of working actively towards increasing awareness of problem gambling and gambling addiction – going well beyond what the legal framework asks of the organization:
While Virginia law requires all lottery profits to go to K-12 education, the lottery has been repeatedly recognized as a leader in the industry when it comes to using its resources and high public profile to raise awareness and encourage responsible play.
Although this may be accurate, critics of the way the lottery has been overlooked as a source of gambling harm urge for changes. This way consumers can be better protected and the underlying issue addressed head-on.