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Legislation to treat gambling addiction

Sen. Sue Madison wants to use $3 million in unclaimed lottery prize money for just that.

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Treatment for gamblers

State Sen. Sue Madison of Fayetteville has filed legislation aimed at taking $3 million in unclaimed lottery prize money to pay for problem gambling prevention, treatment and education.

The current law requires the commission to spend $200,000 on compulsive gambling treatment and education programs, but says nothing about prevention. The new bill would also require educational programs for adolescents to be carried out independently of the Arkansas Lottery Commission.

Lottery spokesperson Julie Baldridge says taking away $3 million in unclaimed prizes would ultimately hurt scholarship funding.

"Most of the unclaimed prize money goes to scholarships," she says. "The amount that we get to keep for advertising, according to another bill that's been introduced, is not going to change because of this $3 million. This will be $3 million that would just dig deeper and that's going to come from the scholarship fund. That's just a policy decision that the legislature is going to have to make."

David Colbert, an advocate for problem gambling prevention, says the bill is badly needed and will protect Arkansans with gambling problems as the lottery continues to grow.

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