Earlier this year, New York Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli was very critical of the Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services (OASAS) after the agency failed to conduct a comprehensive study that would assess the impact of gambling throughout the state.
DiNapoli conducted an audit of the agency between January 2017 and September 2018.
Three months after the results of the audit were released, OASAS has announced it will carry out a statewide gambling prevalence survey and is now urging interested bidders to submit their financial estimates on the cost of the job on or before June 5. The agency however refused to acknowledge whether the timing of their latest problem gambling effort is in any way connected to the concerns raised by DiNapoli in February 2019.
The new survey is New York’s first gambling study in 13 years. The last statewide gambling study, which also examined substance abuse problems throughout the state, took place in 2006. But after that, several state-sanctioned gambling opportunities emerged, with new commercial casinos being built in some areas. Daily fantasy sports offerings have also been added, alongside a range of expanded state lottery products.
DiNapoli had earlier stated that the major gambling expansion called for a new in-depth study to identify whether existing treatment programs are enough and what areas of the state should be given more focus in terms of initiating awareness programs and putting up specialist treatment centers – something OASAS failed to do in the last decade due to what the agency termed as “inadequate funding“.
A Positive Step
OASAS said that the new survey will further boost problem gambling services across the state, and will make sure those in need of support are being catered to. The agency has ramped up efforts to tackle gambling addiction by expanding its treatment and prevention initiatives. Over the years, it managed to open 12 addiction treatment facilities throughout New York, along with providing more training for private practitioners.
The move has been welcomed by the not-for-profit group New York Council on Problem Gambling, with executive director Jim Maney saying the new survey is a vital step in assessing the extent of problem gambling and its health and wellness impacts.
Furthermore, it will aid OASAS and policymakers in deciding what next steps should be taken to address the issue.
The survey firm selected to do the job will interview 5,000 adult New Yorkers spread across different regions of the state. The study will take five months, and will commence in January 2020. A draft report on the findings will be released in August 2019.