State Senator Bryce Reeves (R-Spotsylvania) and Delegate Paul Krizek (D-Mount Vernon) have pre-filed legislation for the upcoming General Assembly session to create a problem gambling committee composed of gambling industry representatives and problem gambling prevention advocates.
“As Virginia moves forward with the expansion of gaming, it’s important that we understand the ills that come with it,” Reeves said in a Tuesday press release. “We must focus our attention on Virginians who struggle with gambling addiction. Delegate Krizek and myself are excited to announce our bipartisan effort to ensure that our Commonwealth’s gaming regulations properly reflect the much-needed funds for problem identification, gambling addiction education, and treatment.”
Virginia has significantly expanded legal gambling options in the past few years. According to Reeves’ press release, the 2021 Virginia Youth Survey found that over 21 percent of high school students said they gambled in the previous year, and 64 percent of 18-25 year-olds gambled in the past 30 days. Reeves and Krizek allied in 2022 on bills to regulate charitable gaming and ban people under 21 years old from playing slots-like historical horse racing games.
The Problem Gambling Treatment and Support Advisory Committee would be housed in the Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services, with the goal of enabling collaboration between prevention and treatment providers and gaming stakeholders to reduce problem gambling.
“In just the last few years, we have considerably expanded gaming in the Commonwealth, with the recent opening of temporary casinos, sports betting, historical horse racing machines, online Lottery, and much more. As more gaming opportunities are legalized and expanded in Virginia, we must prioritize protecting Virginians from gambling addiction, especially young people,” Krizek said. “We know from prevention research that people who begin gambling in their teens are at a higher risk of developing a problem with gambling and that one of the fastest growing groups to have gambling problems are young adults.”
Eric Burk is a reporter at The Virginia Star and The Star News Network. This article originally appeared in The Virginia Star. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the positions of The Republican Standard. Republished with permission.