A Genuine Concern

Native communities have long been plagued with poverty and the chronic disease risk factors that often lead to addiction.

The risk is particularly acute for residents of remote, economically deprived reservations that serve as home to more than 30 percent of indigenous Americans. While the research is limited,

Studies have shown the rate of problem gambling among Native Americans to be two to 16 times higher than non-Indians. Surveys have shown roughly 1-2 percent of the general population suffers from pathological gambling.

A recent survey of Native military veterans also found 10 percent met the criteria for pathological gambling, nearly six times the rate for the general population.

Introducing casino gambling to Indian Country can be problematic for communities plagued by alcohol and substance abuse,

Depression and other risk factors for problem and compulsive gambling.

Yet tribes today operate roughly 508 gambling outlets in 29 states,

Facilities ranging from traffic plazas to gambling resorts, according to the American Gaming Association and National Indian Gaming Commission.

The operations generated $32.4 billion in 2017, according to NIGC.

Tribal leaders are challenged with balancing the benefits of gambling revenues, which provide needed government services to tribal citizens,

With the risks of compounding addiction and other behavioral problems in their communities It stands to reason that many of the 250 casino tribes in the lower 48 states would take a lead role in programs to confront problem and compulsive gambling.

Unlike alcohol, drug abuse and other addictions,

There are no federal agencies assigned to fund and direct programs for problem gambling.

The void has left it up to tribal and state governments, the industry and nonprofits such as NCPG and its affiliates to combat gambling addiction in the U.S. Many programs are funded through provisions of tribal-state regulatory agreements,

Or compacts, required under IGRA in the 29 states with Indian casinos.

Many tribes exceed required contributions with additional donations.

The Seminole Tribe of Florida, owner of Hard Rock International, pays $1.5 million a year to the Florida Council on Compulsive Gambling.

The state Department of Mental Health has no problem gambling program.

The 61 California tribes in 2016 paid the state Office of Problem Gaming (OPG) nearly $8.6 million, far more than the state lottery ($130,000) and card rooms ($153,000).

The OPG contracts with the nonprofit state council for helpline, treatment and employee training services.

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