Average gambling debt for Nebraska is a shocking amount

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

By the numbers, the Nebraska Lottery is a success.

Since it began operating Sept. 11, 1993, the lottery has brought in more than $357 million for beneficiaries like the Education Innovation Fund, Nebraska Scholarship Fund, Nebraska Environmental Trust Fund, Nebraska State Fair and the first half-million dollars plus 1 percent for the Compulsive Gambler's Assistance Fund.

But at what cost?

We were amazed to hear Monday that Nebraskans are racking up an average gambling debt of $26,722, according to the annual report from the Nebraska Gamblers Assistance Program in the Department of Health and Human Services.

You read that right; an average gambling debt more than 50 percent of the average income in our state, according to Scot Adams, director of the DHHS Division of Behavioral Health.

A problem during good times, gambling addiction is a disaster during times like the current recession, with many of those ruined by their weakness winding up on public assistance.

The number of calls to the 24-hour Problem Gambling Helpline asking for help because of financial problems resulting from gambling increased from 20 percent in 2008 to 47 percent in 2009. The hotline (1-800-522-4700) received an average of 178 calls a month in the last fiscal year.

The Gamblers Assistance Program paid out about $700,000 for outpatient treatment services to about 250 people last year.

We've always found it ironic that the lottery helps provide funding to treat the disease it causes.

The lottery is a tax on the gullible, funding programs that might not pass muster were they operated with direct, honest taxation.

State-sponsored gambling certainly isn't the only game in town -- casinos in adjoining states take in more than their share -- but it certainly provides the "gateway drug" for those predisposed to gambling addiction.

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  • I am a recovering compulsive gambler with more than 18 years of recovery and have a Newsletter on line: www.femalegamblers.info and have published a book on the crime I committed to support my habit and how I recovered: www.grippedbygambling.com I would be happy to send you a complimentary copy for your review.



    -- Posted by mslancelot on Wed, Oct 7, 2009, at 8:55 PM
  • I would question how much the average gambling debt has to do with the state and regional lottery.. Real gambling comes from Casino's and online betting.. I have yet to see someone lose a thousand dollars at a gas station buying lottery tickets.. I have seen the effects of habitual gambling from Casino's including the Divorce of our best friends.. That kind of failure is never reported.. But of course, self control is the issue..

    -- Posted by mickhaney on Thu, Oct 8, 2009, at 3:13 AM
  • P.S. I did not match any powerball numbers on my ticket..

    -- Posted by mickhaney on Thu, Oct 8, 2009, at 3:14 AM
  • Wow, guess my $2.00 a month for powerball isn't all that bad!

    -- Posted by goarmy67 on Thu, Oct 8, 2009, at 2:55 PM
  • These numbers are a little hard to hear, and none of my friends have any gambling "debt" so who is the average, or did they happen to figure in the guy from Omaha that inherited Oriental Trading and racked up Millions yes Millions of dollars in gambling debt to casinos across the nation and then averaged that amount out across the rest of the population in the state. Averages and almost all research can be misleading!!

    Are there problems for people yes, is it as bad as they say, I guess lots more people would have to comment and say they have a problem for me to believe this.

    I "bet" its just a little overblown!

    -- Posted by myopinion1 on Wed, Oct 14, 2009, at 10:39 AM
  • Sorry to add more but here are some numbers from the article and a realistic look at them:

    250 people last year got $700,000 worth of outpatient treatment so an average of $2800 for each person treated

    178 calls a month for a total of 2136 calls last year

    2136 calls figured into the population of Nebraska in 2008 which according to the US Census Bureau age 25 and above was 1,131,474 which equals .00188 OR LESS THAN 1% of our population-- less than 1% of our population people, is this a STATE PROBLEM?????

    ITS AMAZING how you can mess around with numbers and CAUSE fear, cause support for OR, damage to a issue!! READ between the lines and don't just BELIEVE what people say, look into things yourself!! AND by all means check my numbers also!!!

    -- Posted by myopinion1 on Wed, Oct 14, 2009, at 5:33 PM
  • your right myopinion1,

    messing with numbers to scare people is exactly what obama has been doing since he got in office

    -- Posted by S&DC on Thu, Oct 15, 2009, at 9:00 AM
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