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S.D. to Use Portion of Gambling Revenue for Addiction Treatment

Gambling is a $10 billion a year industry in California. Some researchers estimate the state has more than a million problem gamblers -- but isn't doing nearly enough to help. KPBS reporter Alan Ray s

S.D. to Use Portion of Gambling Revenue for Addiction Treatment

Gambling is a $10 billion a year industry in California. Some researchers estimate the state has more than a million problem gamblers -- but isn't doing nearly enough to help. KPBS reporter Alan Ray says San Diego county will step in with a program of its own.

San Diego County may lead the state in gambling opportunities, with ten Indian casinos, four card rooms, and lottery sales in hundreds of retail outlets.

The state spends about $3 million a year to publicize Gamblers Anonymous and crisis intervention, but it spends no money on treatment.

So San Diego County will use more than $300,000 a year from the new casino owned by the Santa Ysabela Band of Diegueno Indians to pay for low-cost -- or free -- treatment for people with gambling addictions.

But even finding treatment may not be easy. The Union Tribune reports there are only 24 people in all of California certified to treat problem gambling.

One researcher estimates there may be 1.2 million problem gamblers in California, and a director of the UCLA Gambling Studies Program says treatment for all of them would cost the state $20 million to $30 million a year.