Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Report Urges Training of Gambling Addiction Specialists

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Report Urges Training of Gambling Addiction Specialists

Article excerpt

Illinois, a state with a billion-dollar casino industry, has fewer than 30 specialists trained to treat problem gamblers, a consulting firm told the Illinois Gaming Board on Tuesday.

A preliminary report by Bensinger, DuPont & Associates of Chicago suggests that as many as 200 doctors, drug and alcohol counselors and other "addiction specialists" should be retrained - at the state's expense - to attack Illinoisans' newest compulsive-behavior problem.

The state has recognized that it will have to take responsibility for training people to treat compulsive gambling, said Peter Bensinger, whose firm has spent the past six weeks interviewing riverboat managers and employees and therapy providers around the state. "We'll provide people that want to help with the ability to help."

The firm's research found that Illinois has 28 "treatment providers" that it characterized as "very qualified" to treat compulsive gambling.

The firm found more than 170 others who don't specialize in gambling addiction but are willing to be trained to do so.

"Many parallels were made between the gaming and alcohol beverage industries: that each `sells,' if you will, legal products that if misused can result in serious problems," states the report, released at a gaming board meeting in Chicago. "Efforts should be made to promote gaming as an `entertainment option,' as opposed to `gambling.' "

Bensinger declined to identify specific therapy providers expected to be trained, pending release of the final report later this month. But, he said, generally they include doctors, counselors, community centers, self-help programs and other sources of support for people with addiction problems.

Training those providers to deal with the special problems of compulsive gamblers would be done by subcontractors who are experts in the field and who could start as early as this fall, Bensinger said.

The report cites symptoms of compulsive gambling, including progressive frequency in casino visits, attempts to borrow money from other customers, gambling alone and engaging in "chasing" - that is, upping bets to try to recoup previous losses. …

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