Now that the likelihood of a Las Vegas resort-style casino is on its way onto sovereign Seneca land sold by our city "leaders" for the advantage of a few and the harm of many, we in pediatrics, social work and mental health will have to retool our prevention efforts.
Psychologists tell us that gambling is more addictive to adolescents than to adults, and is as addictive as drugs or cigarettes. Half of all gamblers in casinos are pathological gamblers. Yet no funding for mental health for pathological gambling was offered or even suggested by the compact. Our legislators will need to pass laws to collect state gambling revenues (if there are any) to pay for the services that our citizens will need.
The Senecas will be able to pay for their own with gambling profits. The remainder of Western New Yorkers are going to have to go without in an already very deficient mental health system.
If we care, we must keep up the fight against the casino in Buffalo. If we lose, we must try to help the families and children who will suffer from it by demanding parity in mental health coverage, including gambling addiction.
ROBERT J. SCHULMAN, M.D.