Mass. Legislature slashing problem gambling services funding by 17 percent causes concern among advocates

With casinos on the horizon and online gambling gaining more attention, the Legislature has proposed reducing funding for problem gambling services by 17 percent, according to the Massachusetts Council on Compulsive Gambling, which is urging Gov. Charlie Baker and the Legislature to restore appropriations.

The $40.2 billion fiscal 2018 budget that's on Baker's desk includes $1.25 million for the Department of Public Health to spend on problem gambling services, $250,000 less than what was appropriated last year.

"These cuts to problem gambling services couldn't come at a worse time, particularly as online gambling is expanding, we anticipate new casinos opening in the coming year, and the Lottery had another record year," Marlene Warner, the council's executive director, said in a statement Monday. "The funding cuts will be devastating to our work treating those suffering from addiction and preventing problem gambling in the first place."

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