Problem gambling services for those betting on sports in Washington DC are one vote away from disappearing completely.
The DC Council voted to preliminarily approve Mayor Muriel Bowser‘s fiscal 2024 budget on Tuesday.
The budget strips out an annual $200,000 set-aside for problem gambling issues that arise from bettors using any of the DC sportsbooks available.
Multiple gaming organizations, including the National Council on Problem Gambling, the Sports Betting Alliance, the American Gaming Association and GeoComply, spoke out against the budget cuts.
DC sports betting tax dollars went unused
That the $200,000 coming from annual sports betting taxes is getting stripped from the budget might not be the most worst part.
To date, the District accumulated $600,000 from those taxes and never spent any of it on problem gambling programs through the DC Department of Behavioral Health.
Phyllis Jones, the DBH’s chief of staff, has not responded to requests for comments from LSR but told the DCist the department offers help for problem gambling through its current programs.
No mention of problem gambling on DBH site
Proper problem gambling programs need people specifically trained to handle those issues, Keith Whyte, the executive director of the NCPG, told LSR.
There is also no mention of problem gambling help on the DBH’s website.
“No one is going to seek help from your secret problem gambling program,” Whyte said.
AGA: stripping funds ‘latest’ DC mistake
The AGA pledged to work with other stakeholders in the market to reverse the proposal, Senior VP Chris Cylke said:
“Unfortunately, this is only the latest misstep by the D.C. Government in their effort to offer a viable legal sports betting market. The AGA will work with other stakeholders to ensure the District makes good on their obligation to provide problem gambling resources, as well as continue to highlight the need for a competitive mobile marketplace that will increase revenue to fund these important commitments.”