When gambling in New Mexico is concerned, the State Government is the one that gets the biggest benefits. Reportedly, an amount of over $156 million has been driven to the State Government from tribal casinos’ slot machines, horse racing, racetracks, the New Mexico Lottery, veterans and fraternal clubs.
Unfortunately, the situation is not so great when it comes to problem gambling prevention and treatment. Compulsive gambling has been considered one of the main negative consequences of the constantly increasing wagering in New Mexico, but the fact that neither the Governor, nor the local Legislature were willing to invest more money in this, is even a more serious problem.
John Arthur Smith, State Senate Finance Committee Chairman, has commented on the matter, saying that the problem was much bigger than the competent authorities were ready to confess. He also shared that more questions should be asked on problem gambling and that competent bodies should respond to the issue more eagerly.
Problem Gambling-Related Issues in New Mexico
The state of New Mexico redirected only $70,250 to deal with negative effects from problem gambling over the last budget year which ended on June 30th. The entire amount was generated from the Lottery, with the sum representing only 1% of the tribal casinos revenue sharing, lottery profits and gambling taxes inflow to the budget. It was then redirected to the New Mexico Council on Problem Gambling, which currently provides free help and counseling to gambling addicts.
At the same time, the Compulsive Gambling Council of the state, which was established by law more than a decade ago and has the responsibility of implementing a state plan for prevention and treatment of problem gambling behaviour, has not had any meetings for no less than seven years, in spite of the fact that it is required to have regular meetings under the current legislation.
The New Mexico Department of Health to which the Compulsive Gambling Council has been attached, had a total budget of over $550 million over the last fiscal year. An interesting fact is that the budget of the department included money especially targeted to deal with other problems such as alcohol and tobacco use, cancer, and other public health concerns, but no money for problem gambling was especially aimed at dealing with problem gambling and possible negative effects of gambling.
All this makes the situation with gambling addictions even more serious, as local authorities are supposed to provide adult residents of the state with more education on problem gambling and to invest both money and efforts in collecting and analysing data on gambling-related crimes, incidents, cases of domestic violence and bankruptcies.
According to the latest study of gambling and gambling-related problems in New Mexico that was held in 2006, approximately 29,000 male and female residents of the state were suffering from problem gambling behaviour. Tens of thousands more, on the other hand, were put at risk from becoming gambling addicts. At the same time, the number of gambling-related crimes, incidents and even suicides has been constantly increasing, along with the number of people who deal with compulsive gambling habits.