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Gambling Addiction Expert Says Treatment Tops Prohibition

MORRIS, Ill., Sept. 17 /PRNewswire/ -- A leading expert on gambling addictions, saying that "prohibition doesn't work," today praised the Illinois Video Gaming Act for addressing the issue head-on by providing funding for treatment programs.

"Treatment, not prohibition, is the best way to treat problem gamblers," said Joanna Franklin, who has designed and delivered clinical training programs in 45 states, 10 Canadian provinces, 31 Indian tribes and nine countries outside the United States.

"Problem gamblers are not without options. They will go to a racetrack or casino or the Internet if they can't find a video gaming machine," she added.

Franklin, president of the Institute on Problem Gambling in Baltimore, gave high marks to the Illinois Video Gaming Act, which provides $2.5 million to the Department of Human Resources for treatment programs.

The bill, which passed July 13, allows certain licensed liquor pouring establishments to operate as many as five video gaming devices, provided these machines are located in areas accessible only to adults. Some 25 percent of the revenues from these machines will go to the state, primarily to help fund the $31-billion capital bill. Another 5 percent goes to the local municipality where the machines are located.

A 2008 study published in Psychological Medicine magazine reported a pathological gambling rate of 0.6 percent and a problem gambling rate of 2.6 percent among the general U.S. population.

"We understand that gambling addiction is a serious problem," said Tom Fiedler, president of the Illinois Coin Machine Operators Association, "but it is one that affects only a small percentage of the population. By comparison, alcohol abuse represents a much bigger problem, affecting 12 percent of the population."

"Of those adults who do gamble," he added, "the vast majority do so strictly for its entertainment value.

"We believe that sufficient safeguards have been built into the legislation so that the video games, as they are being designed for Illinois, will not be particularly attractive to problem gamblers," said Fiedler. He noted the machines will accept bets of 5 cents to a $2 maximum, with a $500 maximum win per hand.

Headquartered in Morris, the ICMOA is a 120-member, non-profit organization formed by businesses involved in the coin-operated amusement machine industry in Illinois. For more information on the Illinois Gaming Act,

          Contact: Judi Schindler

SOURCE Illinois Coin Machine Operators Association
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