The National Council on Problem Gambling has affirmed that the enactment of properly funded federal legislation to address problem gambling “would be the most effective way to help limit the suffering of the approximately six million Americans”.

The non-profit organisation makes the comments in a statement issued in conjunction with its Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee, as it continues a mission of leading state and national stakeholders in the development of comprehensive policy and programs for those affected.

“Some Americans continue to struggle to fully comprehend how cultural and historical experiences can shape the identity of different racial and ethnic groups,” the NCPG statement reads.

“The lack of understanding often shows up in health care, but work is being done to bridge these gaps. That includes introducing legislative solutions at the local, state and federal levels to provide support, treatment, and hope for those who suffer with mental health challenges like gambling addiction. However, we know that much more can be done to help people and communities of colour. 

“Many people think that individuals with addictions should just stop and not do it anymore. They feel it is a moral failing or lack of willpower – not a treatable disease.”

The group moves on to address “a hidden addiction that nevertheless demands attention,” and emphasises that the psychological burdens are “profound”.

“For example, one in five people who have severe gambling problems will attempt suicide. Intergenerational trauma, abuse, and other personal aspects of being different feed into one another and can perpetuate addiction,” it is added. 

“It is time for all of us to treat people as individuals. If a person struggles with an addiction, we need to ask ourselves, ‘what happened, what are they struggling with?’ We must work hard to reach out to other races and ethnicities to learn about their cultures and find our commonalities going forward. 

“If you grew up in the US, you are no doubt familiar with this declaration: ‘I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.’ 

“We must, as a nation, make our actions embody these words – make them permeate how we think about the multitude of challenges we face as a nation. If you treat others as you would want to be treated, we are likely to achieve better results, including that vision of liberty and justice for all.” 

The NCPG is a national advocate for programs and services to assist people and families affected by problem gambling, and to improve health and wellness by reducing its personal, social, and economic costs.