NY state to study gambling addiction

THE ASSOCIATED PRESSIn this June 25, 2018 file photo, Joyce Green of Vineland, N.J. reacts to a winning spin at a slot machine as her husband Tom looks on inside the Ocean Casino Resort in Atlantic City, N.J. State officials are now planning to conduct a residential survey aimed at gathering more information on problem gambling across New York. 

ALBANY – The New York State Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services will begin the selection process to award a contract for a new examination into gambling addiction this summer.

The responses are due in about four months and follow a recent suggestion by New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli's office that while the state has continued to issue licenses for gaming facilities it is not devoting proportional resources to understand the affect of gambling on residents. 

Conducting an assessment of the proliferation of casinos and other wagering options was among the comptroller's key recommendations. OASAS said it expects proposals from contractors to be submitted by June 5 and a contract to be awarded by July 3.

According to a statement from the office, the upcoming survey – slated to begin in October – will be designed to examine residents' attitudes and behaviors related to gambling, health and wellness factors and the prevalence of "problem gambling." 

The request for contract proposals issued by OASAS asks respondents to conduct a survey of 5,000 individuals using random digit dialing for landlines and cellphones. About 530 of those individuals will be selected from Western New York.

The survey interview will last about 20 to 25 minutes and include questions in English or Spanish regarding individuals' "prevalence of gambling and problem gambling within various time periods, social determinants of problem gambling, age of onset, treatment experience, and questions relating to the prevalence of co-occurring substance use disorders and other mental health conditions."

Arlene González-Sánchez, OASAS commissioner, said in a statement the survey will help the agency determine where the need for treatment resources is greatest. 

"We remain committed to ensuring the necessary services are in place for all New Yorkers to address this issue," she said.

The office is also in the process of "finalizing the development" seven treatment centers that will serve to coordinate resources in every region of the state. The statement indicated four are already in operation, with three more set to open in August, including one in Western New York.

"These centers serve as central hubs for people to access prevention, treatment, and recovery resources in their respective regions," the statement said.