WyBETT
                             Wyomingites for a Better Economy Today and Tomorrow
WyBETT   Wyomingites for a Better Economy Today and Tomorrow
 
 Gambling Addiction Treatment Letter

December 3, 2003

  Dear Friend,

  When the gambling compacts were drawn up between the state and the tribes in 2001, there was a requirement for one-quarter of one percent of their gambling income to be spent on treatment of addicted gamblers and prevention of gambling addiction.  This requirement was to be met by both the tribal casinos and the racetrack casinos.  The amount that the statutes require, based on the quarter percent, would be about one and a half million dollars a year. 

  There was no contribution requirement made of the veterans and fraternal organizations that run slot machines.  The New Mexico State Lottery was encouraged but now required to donate money for the treatment of gambling addicts.  The state lottery has spent a small amount on treatment, but has spent millions per year on advertising, thus increasing the number of gambling addicts who are destroying themselves and their families. 

  Although the compacts required money to be spent on treating gambling addicts, they did not stipulate who would be responsible for dispersing treatment and prevention money, and what qualifications were needed to obtain that money.  As a result, the tracks and the tribal casinos disperse the money to whomever they please, which appears to be everyone from qualified treatment providers to unqualified friends and relatives.

  In the July-August New Mexico Gaming Control Board newsletter earlier this year, the Gaming Control Board boasted about their stewardship and accountability by insuring that 12 million dollars in gambling addiction treatment money was distributed to health providers.   I sent a certified letter to the New Mexico Gaming Control Board, asking them for a breakdown on the money spent by the tracks (the tribes are not required to report to the NMGCB on their gambling addiction treatment payments) on treatment and prevention. The NMGCB executive director replied with two interesting bits of information.

  First, he said that they made a mistake, as the money dispersed was only one million dollars, rather than 12 million.  That is a 1,200% error!!  I wonder how many other self-serving errors they have made in their reports to the people of New Mexico.  The executive director replied in the letter that they would correct that error in a subsequent newsletter.   They did not make a retraction of the error in the September-October NMGCB Newsletter.  Right now they have the public thinking it was $12 million, so they are not likely to admit their mistake unless more pressure is put on them.  Maybe this letter will help put that pressure.

  Second, The executive director responded that they had no knowledge of where the tracks were sending treatment and prevention money.  A reporter recently asked the Board to see their accounting records on treatment money and was told that state law required them to keep that information confidential.  A lawyer looked into the state gambling law for us, and said that although the board was not required by state law to relinquish the information, they were not required to keep it confidential, either. They made their own confidentiality rules, so revealing their records is completely at their own discretion, and they could make new rules to make them public if they wanted to.  It is obvious that they want to keep this information secret.  WHY?  WHO BENEFITS FROM THIS?

  According to State Public Health research several years ago, over 40 thousand New Mexico citizens would be classified as “serious problem gamblers.”  New Mexico has a huge problem with gambling addicts, but the New Mexico Gaming Control Board wants to keep their records on treatment money secret.  The NMGCB is supposed to be protecting citizens in the state, but they seem to be more concerned about protecting the racetracks from public scrutiny. 

  The Associated Press reported that Governor Richardson has received over $600,000 in campaign contributions for his political endeavors from the gambling “industry.”  Governor Richardson has shown his willingness to get involved in gambling matters by promoting a new racetrack in Hobbs, and appointing as state gaming representative a man who had been selling slot machines to a tribal casino in California that was operating illegally.  Treatment for gambling addicts would be a much better area for Governor Richardson to get involved in.

  The New Mexico Gaming Control Board serves at Governor Richardson’s pleasure.  If he wants gambling addicts to get proper treatment, he can get the Board to open their books, or he can appoint a new Board.  Also, if he is serious about helping citizens in New Mexico, he can put gambling addiction treatment legislation on the call for the 2004 legislative session.  The question is, will he act to get treatment money where it belongs, or will he protect his gambling “industry” contributors from public examination?

  There is supposed to be about one and a half million dollars a year spent on gambling addiction treatment and prevention in the state, and the state agency responsible for monitoring that activity refuses to allow the information to be made public.  There is no way for the public or the press to determine where this money is being spent, and whether it is being wisely spent or misappropriated.

  THINGS NEED TO CHANGE!!

  The New Mexico Coalition Against Gambling will be proposing legislation during the 2004 legislative session that would require the tribal casinos, the tracks, the state lottery, and charitable organizations to all contribute one quarter of one percent of gambling revenue for treatment and prevention of gambling addiction. We are also proposing that the legislature create a new sub-agency under the Department of Health, responsible for distributing this money to qualified treatment groups, clinics and individuals.  The law would require that all treatment and prevention money raised by the gambling providers be sent directly to this sub-agency for distribution.  Governor Richardson has the power to put these items on the call, especially if the tribal gambling compacts are being renegotiated.  The legislature can vote for such legislation if they want to help those damaged by gambling addiction. 

  It’s high time that health professionals were in charge of distributing the treatment money, instead of the gambling predators.

  The New Mexico Coalition Against Gambling would like to recruit your support in our effort to modify the gambling compacts and state law. The tribes are trying to get the legislature to approve some modifications to the gambling compacts, which would open this whole area up to legislative consideration.  We will be lobbying the state legislature during the 30-day 2004 legislative session.  We will keep you up to date on the progress of our legislative proposals.  We hope you will organize within your respective groups to lobby the legislature on this and other worthy topics.  We usually have six or seven volunteer lobbyists that work with the legislature each year.  We need more people to work with us.  If you or any of your associates would like to work with us lobbying the legislature, we can train you and provide the organization to make our efforts more effective.  Please contact me at the e-mail address or phone numbers provided below.

  We are also in need of more money to carry out our plans.  We spend money on such things as mailing correspondence such as this, on manufacture of posters, bumper stickers, and campaign buttons.  We also pay a very fine lawyer for his out-of-pocket expenses, but he donates his time pro-bono.  We have no salaries to pay, no withholding to make, and no insurance premiums to cover.  We lobby the legislature on bills and legislation, so your contributions will not be tax-deductible, but will provide an important service to the state and its citizens.  Please use the return envelope enclosed, and make the checks out to the New Mexico Coalition Against Gambling.  We appreciate your support.

  Cordially,

  Dr. Guy C. Clark, executive director                                    New Mexico Coalition Against Gambling

  guy@clarkdds.com                                                  505-259-7541 (cel)

  p.s.  We now receive our checks and correspondence at: New Mexico Coalition Against Gambling                           720 Vassar Dr. NE                                                    Albuquerque, NM 87106