House Bill 22-1402 is a relatively new measure in the state of Colorado that will set up how problem gaming programs in the state will be set up. A late amendment was added last week in the Senate, changing the funding to annually. This means that funding process for the programs will need to be reapproved each year, which could become an issue.
Details of the Amendment
The bill sets up a grant program where around $3 million will be set aside for problem gambling funding. However, the Senate decided to change the language in the bill, changing the word continuously to annually. This changes how funding is allotted and creates the need for reapproval every year.
Advocates for problem gambling programs are not a fan of the change. They feel that problem gaming funding is usually the last on the list and the first one cut when times get tough. Advocates feel that funding needs to be secure and not subject to a yearly review.
The bill passed within the House last week with a vote of 53-12. The Senate then passed an amended version 25-8 later in the week. The Senate version must be approved by the House before it will head to Governor Jared Polis’ desk.
A consultant representing the National Council on Problem Gambling, Brianne Doura-Schawohl, commented that the intention of the bill was to ensure funding for gambling addiction needs. An open-ended grand program with annual appropriation needs leaves the state vulnerable when it comes to gambling addiction issues.
No Action Yet
The sponsor of the original bill, House Speaker Alec Garnett, stated that the chamber might choose to stick to its original position and refuse the amendments made by the Colorado senate. Garnett stated he is unsure why the yearly review is needed. He plans to meet with stakeholders to review the Senate changes.
Problem Gambling Coalition of Colorado president Peggy Brown, showed her disappointment in the measure, stating that the action by the Senate takes place after long negotiations to create the compromise bill.
She feels that everyone made concessions to get to the finished bill and basically the Senate is shaking everything up by adding the amendments. Brown went on to state that the amendments reek of politics, power, and control.
If the amendments are approved, then the coalition will need to pitch their needs every year to get approval for funding. Members already operate on a volunteer basis, so this will be even more work for those who are not paid to help with problem gambling needs.