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Oregon Lottery's Anti-Addiction Efforts Under Scrutiny

Thomas Hawk

SALEM, Ore. –The Oregon Lottery spends millions of dollars a year to prevent gambling addiction. But some Oregon lawmakers say that effort has been ineffective. Now, a legislative committee may force the Lottery to hire someone to coordinate its anti-addiction efforts.

Jeff Marotta runs a Portland-based consulting firm that helps lottery agencies nationwide develop anti-addiction programs. He chaired a work group convened by the Lottery that found its anti-addiction efforts lacked focus.

For instance, the Lottery created a video to train front-line workers on how to spot a problem gambler. But Marotta says few bartenders and sales clerks ever saw it.

"The project started and developed a very good training video. And at that point it kind of fizzled out. And I think that happened because there just wasn't somebody to steer that effort forward."

A measure under consideration in Salem would require the Lottery to hire a mental health expert to coordinate the agency's problem gambling programs. A spokesman for the Lottery says the agency has no position on the idea.

The Lottery brings more than $1 billion into state coffers each budget cycle.

On the Web:

LC 1603: Lottery measure (Oregon Legislature)

Oregon Problem Gambling Helpline (