income from legalized gambling (Letson, 1998). For Minnesota, in 1997, it represents about one-half of 1 percent of the state's income from legalized gambling (Svendsen, 1998). Moreover, the majority of state affiliates to the National Council on Problem Gambling probably do not receive this level of funding (Letson, 1998) and, although 47 states have some form of legalized gambling and all 50 states have gambling venues (legal and illegal), only 34 have a council.

Without a good estimate of the number of pathological gamblers in the United States and the actual number of patients in treatment for this disorder, it is nearly impossible to reliably estimate the gap between the need for and use of treatment services. There are five reasons to expect that a significant gap exists between use of treatment and need for treatment in the area of pathological gambling (Letson, 1998): (1) an unwillingness by many gamblers to seek treatment; (2) a lack of recognition by the public that pathological gambling and problem gambling have significant health consequences; (3) failure of health insurers to recognize lay persons and treatment professionals who are certified by a recognized national or state organization as qualified providers of pathological gambling treatment; (4) lack of funding for treating pathological gambling; and (5) a perception that treatment is or may be ineffective.

Help-Line Services3

A survey designed and conducted for the committee to provide information on problem gambling help lines in the United States reported that gambling help lines now operate in 35 of the 47 states that have some form of legalized gambling (Wallisch, 1998). In addition, the National Council on Problem Gambling, Inc., has a nationwide toll-free number (1-800-522-4700) that some states use as their state number and that other states advertise separately from their own in state number.

It is estimated that about 60 to 70 percent of calls to help lines

3  

The committee acknowledges Lynn Wallisch for her written report and contribution to this section.



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