State should keep promise on aid for problem gamblers.
As new casinos pop up in Kansas, access to gambling has become more convenient.
Yet efforts to help problem gamblers have been stymied.
According to some state lawmakers, the state has improperly spent casino and lottery revenues earmarked for programs to help Kansans with gambling and other addictions.
State law requires 2 percent of the state's gambling revenues to be put into a problem gambling fund. Instead, most of the dollars have gone to general government services.
Those who'd defend such a move claim the effort to assist people with gambling problems in Kansas has been slow to materialize because the state hasn't identified communities with gambling problems, or identified specifics on how many people have problems, and what those problems may be.
Perhaps they should start with a hard look at cities with casinos.
The first state-owned casino opened in December 2009 in Dodge City. There's no question the venture — and others to follow in Kansas — were safe bets to put significant funding in state coffers, to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars a year.
At the same time, there also was no denying gambling would come at a painful cost to many.
State lawmakers knew that while Kansas was poised to collect big bucks in gaming tax revenue, the business also would exact a costly social toll in personal financial crises that can lead to crime, bankruptcies and broken families.
The deal was to use just a small portion of gambling income for outreach, counseling and help lines for such addiction-related problems.
By now, the programs to aid Kansans addicted to gambling should at least be close to meeting existing needs.
Yet only about 100 people used problem gambling services available in the first year. Statistics show thousands more in trouble.
It's inexcusable to lean on gamblers for significant state funding, then snatch away any meager funding set aside to address problems.
More casinos means more gamblers. And, as a result, more people getting in trouble.
The state should follow through on its part of the deal, and spend gambling income as required by law.