© 2023
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

Gambling Addiction Now Being Treated At NY State Centers


A move to expand problem gambling treatment comes as four casinos prepare to open in upstate New York. 

"If you look at the Capital Region there's roughly 900,000 people within an hour's drive or so of our property, and that's our market."  Rush Street President and CEO Greg Carlin, speaking at last February's ceremonial ground-breaking on the site of the Rivers Casino residential-retail development project in Schenectady. With a total price tag pegged at $480 million, the Rivers initiative is expected to pump $4.1 million each to the city and county, with another $2 million going to the Schenectady City School District.

But bad often follows good - On the heels of her report "State Revenues from Gambling: Short-Term Relief, Long-Term Disappointment," released in April 2016, study author Lucy Dadayan warned that in the long run, casinos have a very negative impact on local communities, including an increase in bankruptcy filings. Dadayan says the number of gamblers doesn't change:    "The development of new casinos doesn't really affect that many new gamblers. It's just a shift of gamblers from one location to another."

Nonetheless, observers in the Albany area worry the Rivers will become a "convenient casino" and recruit a new generation of gamblers.  Jim Maney is the executive director of the New York Council On Problem Gambling.      "It's getting a lot of publicity, right? The opening - everybody knows when the opening is, it's gonna be February 8th, and you know they're putting millions and millions of dollars into it.  I just think whenever we talks about gambling, we always have to make sure we talk about problem gambling. Anytime you have a new business - you're gonna have people going to a casino for the first time. You're going to have people that can go to casinos now daily. You 're gonna have people that can go to casinos stopping off when they're going to and from work. In the past if you wanted to go to a casino, you'd have to go, say, to Turning Stone. Or if you wanted to go play not slots but VLTs you'd have to go to Saratoga. And now when you have it at your back door, and it's so readily accessible, we do believe that folks will develop issues with it."

The hope is that education and awareness will counter temptation, which remains to be seen.

Meantime, problem gamblers in New York can now receive in-patient care at six state-run addiction treatment centers, which traditionally accept people with chemical dependencies. The centers have been granted waivers allowing them to admit people with problem gambling as their primary diagnosis.

Rob Kent is General Counsel at OASAS, the New York State Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services says Gambling clinicians on staff can provide inpatient services to people for up to 30 days.   "So this creates ability for people to go to a bedded in-patient program, if that's necessary. We have some outpatient programs that can accept folks who have a problem gambling issue. And all of our programs can accept anyone who has a substance use disorder that's co-occurring with a problem gambling issue. The other thing that we've done is we've been working with associations that represent private practice licensed practitioners, because many folks, from our experience, go to private practitioners one on one to address these kinds of issues, so we've worked in collaboration with those organizations to create a standard of care or a training package, so that everyone's up to speed and using the best evidence-based approaches to treatment."

The six Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services addiction treatment centers accept all patients regardless of their ability to pay. They are: Stutzman in Buffalo, Kingsboro in Brooklyn, St. Lawrence in Ogdensburg, Creedmoor in Queens and Norris in Rochester.

The Richard C. Ward Addiction Treatment Center in Middletown, 100 miles from Albany, is the closest one to the Capital Region.

  • Albany's Center for Problem Gambling Program, featured on the Gambling Support Directory, provides counseling and support services to individuals who need help with their gambling problem.
  • To learn more about the warning signs of gambling addiction, visit the New York Council on Problem Gambling’s warning signs webpage.
  • New York Council on Problem Gambling Executive Director Jim Maney said, “This expansion of State-funded inpatient treatment is unprecedented. We commend Governor Cuomo and OASAS Commissioner González-Sánchez for their commitment to expanding problem gambling services and to increasing access to more levels of care for problem gamblers and their families in New York State.”
  • For more information, including referral or admission to one of these ATC facilities, or outpatient treatment for problem gambling in your community, contact the New York State HOPEline at 1-877-8-HOPENY (1-877-846-7369) or by texting HOPENY (Short Code 467369). For general information about problem gambling, visit the New York Council on Problem Gambling website.
  • New Yorkers can also research available treatment beds or outpatient slots by using the OASAS Treatment Availability Dashboard at FindAddictionTreatment.ny.gov anytime.
  • For additional help with accessing substance use disorder care and obtaining insurance coverage, view short informational videos on the Access Treatment page on the NYS OASAS website: www.oasas.ny.gov.
  • Visit the #CombatAddiction web pages at oasas.ny.gov/CombatAddiction to learn more about how you can help to #CombatAddiction in your community. Visit www.combatheroin.ny.gov for information on addressing heroin and prescription opioid abuse, including a Kitchen Table Tool Kit to help start the conversation about the warning signs of addiction and where to get help. For additional tools to use in talking to young people about preventing underage drinking or drug use, visit the State’s Talk2Prevent website.
Dave Lucas is WAMC’s Capital Region Bureau Chief. Born and raised in Albany, he’s been involved in nearly every aspect of local radio since 1981. Before joining WAMC, Dave was a reporter and anchor at WGY in Schenectady. Prior to that he hosted talk shows on WYJB and WROW, including the 1999 series of overnight radio broadcasts tracking the JonBenet Ramsey murder case with a cast of callers and characters from all over the world via the internet. In 2012, Dave received a Communicator Award of Distinction for his WAMC news story "Fail: The NYS Flood Panel," which explores whether the damage from Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee could have been prevented or at least curbed. Dave began his radio career as a “morning personality” at WABY in Albany.
Related Content