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Maine Preparing For Problem Gambling Treatment Increase

Maine has joined the likes of Maryland, New York, Pennsylvania, and Delaware, all states that have expanded gambling in the past few years. The economic recession has led to a gambling boom all across the US, and the Northeast has seen some of the quickest expansion.

In Maine, one casino is already open to the public, and another gaming facility is on its way next year. The new gaming options has led the state to increase their efforts to ensure that problem gamblers have a place to turn if their gambling moves towards addiction. The ultimate goal of the state is to have the programs in place by the time the new casino opens in 2012.

"We created the Megan Network, which is basically a network of providers that were specially trained in treating individuals who had come to them with a gambling addiction," said Substance Abuse Treatment Specialists Christine Theriault.

The substance abuse specialist believes, like most Mainers, that problem gambling cases will increase with additional gaming options. That has not always been the case with expansion in other states, but the Gambling Control Board in Maine wants to be proactive in dealing with the situation if it presents itself when the new casino is opened.

The nationwide addiction numbers are not high. Only one percent of gamblers are considered addicts, a number much lower than most anti-gambling groups would have anyone believe. In most cases, the gambling is regulated to a point where addicts have a hard time gaining access to their favorite casinos. Self-exclusion programs have worked great in states such as Nevada and New Jersey.

Maryland has been the most aggressive with their treatment options, dedicating millions of dollars towards awareness, prevention, and treatment. Outside the US, countries are also dealing with rising addiction numbers. In Australia, lawmakers are working on legislation that would make it mandatory for casinos to install pre-commitment machines on their slot machines.

With the machines, gamblers would have to set a limit before they could start playing on the machines. The casinos are fighting the legislation, arguing that the pre-commitment program should be installed, but should be optional, not mandatory.

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