Under North Carolina’s new sports betting law, the North Carolina Problem Gambling Program (NCPGP) will receive an additional $2 million a year to expand the program that provides “effective problem gambling prevention, education, outreach and treatment services throughout North Carolina.”
The program runs through North Carolina’s Department of Health and Human Services and receives its sole funding from the North Carolina Education Lottery.
Hannah Jones, press assistant at the NCDHHS, spoke to NCSharp about the new influx of funding.
“The new legislation,” Jones said, “directs the department to pursue best practices for treating, preventing and mitigating potential harms surrounding legalized sports gambling and provides funding to expand programs and services. NCDHHS is still navigating how to use these new funds to best serve our state.”
North Carolina’s sports betting law can take effect as early as Jan. 8, 2024, but has until June 14, 2024, to launch. The North Carolina Lottery Commission will regulate sports betting in North Carolina. Tax revenue will fund many programs, including North Carolina problem gambling initiatives.
Services offered by the North Carolina Problem Gambling Program
The stated purpose of the NCPGP is to “provide statewide treatment services, training and technical support in-person and on-line for prevention and provide education and outreach to promote awareness through media, partnerships and integration.”
More Than A Game
Under the larger umbrella of the NCPGP are more focused gambling assistance programs. More Than A Game, one such program, aims to help North Carolinians address, diagnose, treat and recover from gambling-related addiction.
Through the program, people can locate specialists, access downloadable tools to aid in recovery and find 24/7 resources to contact with pressing concerns.
One of the key methods of recovery in the More Than A Game program is assisting people in creating their recovery plans. The program emphasizes language such as:
- “Helping them navigate”
- “Providing accountability”
- “Offering guidance”
Such language emphasizes the importance of establishing agency for the person dealing with gambling addiction, which is how More Than A Game aims to help North Carolinians find their way out of gambling-related problems.
Sure Bet, Stacked Deck and Blurring the Lines of Gambling
These three educational programs offer gambling-focused educational modules for different target audiences.
Sure Bet is a workshop series targeted at professionals and university faculty interested in better understanding problem gambling. The three-part workshop series is sponsored by the NCPGP and is held a few times yearly. There is usually a nominal cost for attendance (around $25) of each module. For people who complete the training, continuing education credits are available.
Stacked Deck is a grant-based program targeting middle- and high-school students with information on gambling education, financial literacy and problem gambling prevention. The Stacked Deck curriculum comprises seven lessons and is the only Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services-approved curriculum for youth-focused problem gambling education.
Blurring the Lines of Gambling is a self-paced, five-part workshop open to anyone through the Behavioral Health Springboard at UNC Chapel Hill. The program, officially called “The Introduction to Prevention and Treatment for Youth Problem Gambling and Gaming” is free and open to anyone. The program targets child and adolescent mental health therapists and school-based therapists interested in deepening their understanding of problem gambling. The curriculum covers “an introduction to youth problem gambling; screening tools and treatment pathways for problem gambling; information on co-occurring disorders including the gaming and gambling convergence; and basic information on gaming addiction.”
Sports betting tax revenue not a guaranteed check
As House Bill 347, North Carolina’s sports betting law, states: “The remainder of the net proceeds of the tax collected under this Article are to be credited in the following priority …”
In the text that follows, the Department of Health and Human Services has the highest priority on the list. However, the NCDHHS will only receive its annual $2 million allotment after the Department of Revenue has reimbursed the NC Lottery Commission for costs associated with running the industry.
Keeping in mind that tax revenue and revenue allotments are never guaranteed is important. States such as Colorado and Virginia found out the hard way that allowing operators to write off promo deductions for new bettors can drastically cut down expected revenues, and, by extension, programs that would have benefitted from those revenues.
North Carolina, to its credit, does not allow operators to write off promo deductions, so there will be fewer surprises when monthly revenue reports are published.
Ultimately, should costs associated with running the sports betting industry eat into so much sports betting revenue that the NCDHHS does not receive its funding? Almost certainly not. However, in the first year of sports betting, the state’s fiscal note on the bill indicates that sports betting tax revenue may not total enough for all of North Carolina’s listed beneficiaries to receive their full benefits. So, tempering expectations is still important.
Key contacts in the NCPGP
North Carolina Problem Gambling Helpline: 877-718-5543
Suicide Prevention Helpline: 800-273-8255
24/7 Chat Service: Text morethanagamenc to 53342