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Oregon Attacks Problem Gambling With New Proposed Legislation

The Oregon Lottery is responsible for bringing in billions of dollars to the state budget each year. Due to the pressure on the lottery to produce these funds, it has become commonplace for the lottery to target any and all gamblers in their advertisements.

Representative Carolyn Tomei has produced a bill that is aimed at ensuring that while gambling rises in Oregon, gambling addiction does not. The bill, if passed, would provide some of the most aggressive measures to prevent problem gambling that have ever been enacted in the state.

"When you see the ads, you see people laughing and talking and shouting," said Tomei. "If you ever go into a Dotty's or a Foxy's, people aren't laughing and chatting. They're very quietly investing in the game."

Tomei has been an advocate for law changes regarding how the lottery is portrayed to the public for year. The issue, however, has not been embraced by fellow lawmakers, something that Tomei believes is changing.

"I've been working on this issue for years," Tomei says. "and this is the closest I've come to getting any kind of traction."

The representative has gone to great lengths to outline several different plans aimed at curbing problem gambling. The first part of the plan would require a full-time mental health expert on call for the lottery to reference.

When alcohol is involved in the places where the gaming is taking place, Tomei wants classes designed at helping employees recognize problem gambling behavior in customers.

The last area Tomei is targeting is how the lottery is portrayed. Currently, the lottery claims to be on a mission to "produce the maximum amount of net revenues." Tomei would like to see that statement changed, although she admits this may be the most difficult part of the plan to get lawmakers to agree to.

Oregon is one of the many states that is tackling gambling addiction head-on as a response to the growing US gaming industry. Maryland is considered the leader when it comes to innovation in preventing and treating gambling addiction.

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