April 20, 2023 3 min read


Virginia to Launch Problem Gaming Treatment Initiative

New legislation will allow authorities in the Commonwealth to tackle the growing challenges related to gambling addiction

Problem gambling has been a growing concern for lawmakers and advocacy groups in the state, necessitating the creation of new legislation. Senate Bill 836 is an all-encompassing solution, aiding individuals struggling with addiction and working with operators to tackle potential problems in their infancy. The bi-partisan effort will be pivotal to protecting vulnerable groups and maintaining a healthy gaming ecosystem.

The Legislation Received Unanimous Support

The idea to create Virginia’s Problem Gambling Treatment and Support Advisory Committee began in January as a concerted initiative to tackle the dangerous fallout of the gambling industry. Sen. Bryce Reeves, R-Spotsylvania, and Del. Paul Krizek, D-Fairfax, proved instrumental in spearheading the new legislation, which will facilitate collaboration between treatment providers and gambling operators to reduce problem gambling.

After gaining unanimous support in the Virginia General Assembly, Senate Bill 836 received the approval of Gov. Youngkin and was officially signed into law, effective July 1. Virginia’s Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services will implement the new legislation, as it has substantial experience tackling addiction and mental health issues.

Similar Measures Are Sorely Needed

Problem gambling has become a rising concern for Virginians ever since the state allowed its first four regulated casinos. In-person and online sports betting have also boomed, with monthly handles often exceeding $500 million. Despite the industry’s significant tax contributions, The Virginia Problem Gambling Hotline has experienced a 143% rise in calls, reflecting the growing societal issues associated with the industry.

The newly formed Committee aims to be a comprehensive solution, tackling problem gaming on all levels. Rising rates of youth gambling have been of particular concern after a 2021 study found that roughly one in four high school students in Virginia had gambled in the past 12 months. The new legislation hopes to address this by cooperating with operators and spreading public awareness to protect vulnerable groups.

As a father, it pains me to see how our youth have been affected by gambling and all the ills that come with it.

Virginia Sen. Bryce Reeves

Another of the Committee’s primary goals will be to aid individuals already suffering from gaming disorders. To achieve this, it will facilitate collaboration between treatment providers and gambling operators, attacking the problem from all directions. However, lasting results will also require help from the state regulator, ensuring that gambling establishments abide by existing rules and invest sufficiently in safe gaming initiatives.

The rising sentiment against gambling harm has also affected Virginia’s skill game sector, which is becoming increasingly problematic. Lawmakers have been trying to restrict their spread, noting their dubious legal status allowed them to offer a slot-like experience without regulatory oversight. However, pushback from machine manufacturers and business owners has stifled legislative efforts, legging one of the Commonwealth’s most pressing gaming issues unchecked.

Deyan is an experienced writer, analyst, and seeker of forbidden lore. He has approximate knowledge about many things, which he is always willing to apply when researching and preparing his articles. With a degree in Copy-editing and Proofreading, Deyan is able to ensure that his work writing for GamblingNews is always up to scratch.

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