The Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services is seeking community leaders, gambling addiction professionals and concerned citizens to serve on a Problem Gambling Task Force for the Northeast Gaming Zone in the Kansas City area.
The task force will serve as a link to the northeast Kansas community and will work to address unique local needs that stem from gambling addictions.
"Our goal is to engage the people on the ground in the northeast Kansas community in this effort," said Acting SRS Secretary Phyllis Gilmore. "We need treatment providers, local elected officials, law enforcement, veterans' and minority advocates and anyone who wants to help us create effective strategies for addressing problem gambling."
Task forces have already been established for the West Gaming Zone, which includes Dodge City's Boot Hill Casino, and the South Central Gaming Zone near Wichita.
Although the task force in Northeast Kansas will not be required to model itself after the other two, the Northeast Kansas task force will have similar goals and may adopt some of the strategies that are already working in the other communities.
The Sedgwick County area task force in the South Central Gaming Zone has identified three top priorities: advocacy, education and prevention. Under that umbrella, the task force uses multiple tools to connect with the community: working with local governments on Problem Gambling Awareness proclamations, community outreach presentations, maintaining social media presences, providing educational resources to schools and raising awareness through collaboration with local media.
"Community leaders are very concerned about the potential harms of problem gambling. SRS is charged with doing everything we can to collaborate with the community to empower organizations and help individuals and families to be healthy in regard to gaming, so we are very excited to be a part of this effort in Kansas City," said Paul Hahn, Problem Gambling Services Coordinator.
The task forces typically meet monthly for at least an hour.
In addition, SRS is hiring a Problem Gambling Specialist to serve the Northeast Gaming Zone and work closely with the new task force. This individual will join specialists already providing counseling services in the other two gaming zones. SRS expects to have this new specialist on the job by late March. The Problem Gambling Specialists' salaries are provided through the Problem Gambling Fund, which the Kansas Legislature established and funded with 2 percent of revenues from state-owned casinos.
Funding for the salaries for the Problem Gaming Specialists as well as all three of the task forces come from the Problem Gambling Fund, which the Kansas Legislature established and funded with 2 percent of revenues from state-owned casinos.
Individuals interested in joining the Problem Gambling Task Force for the Northeast Gaming Zone should email Paul Hahn at [email protected].