Thanks to the legalization of online sports betting in many states, more people are betting on sports than ever before. While there are many positives to legalized betting, there’s no ignoring the elephant in the room: more people gambling means more people with gambling addictions/problems.
Many states with legalized sports betting took this into consideration from the start. Several have allocated some of the state’s gambling revenue towards problem gambling programs. For example, the State of New Jersey will be spending close to $1 million on problem gambling programs in this fiscal year.
Vague requirements in Connecticut’s legal gambling bill left no funding for the Connecticut council on problem gambling. As a result, they are starting to feel the effects.
Now it’s not like the Connecticut Council on Problem Gambling is left to fend for itself. It regularly receives funding from the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation (Foxwoods) and the Mohegan Tribe (Mohegan Sun).
However, since the legalization of sports gambling the council has seen an influx of people looking for help. This puts a tremendous strain on the now under–funded council.
“Our Calls have quadrupled to the hotline,” Diana Goode, executive director of the Connecticut Council on Problem Gambling, said. “Our issue really is with prevention funding and getting people into these treatment programs.”
While the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation and the Mohegan Tribe are already giving the council $300,000 each per year, Goode feels there is more to accomplish.
Ray Pineault, the regional president of Mohegan Gaming and Entertainment, said that they are willing to give more money to the issue, adding “None of us benefit from servicing people who have problem with it.”
What is being done?
The Connecticut Lottery, partnered with Rush Street Interactive, says they’re doing whatever they can to catch problem gambling early on.
Tammi Barlow of Rush Street Interactive says, “We do offer protections on our mobile app. We offer limit-setting tools, cool offs, we do offer players a chance to exclude if they would like to for one or five years.”
The current efforts don’t stop there though. Mashantucket Pequot Chairman Rodney Butler said that they are “spending three to four times that [legally required] number on our own initiatives and marketing.”
However, the issue still stands that Connecticut’s main problem gambling hotline is hurting.
So what’s next?
Connecticut lawmakers said they want to see more data on the subject over the next few months. After reviewing that information, they can determine what needs to be done.
Goode feels like a promising place to start is with advertising: “I can watch TV for 15 minutes, and everybody’s advertising except us. I think I drive 1.6 miles to Hartford and probably see 10 billboards. And none of them are mine.”
While the issue should have been addressed sooner, it’s nice to know it’s not just getting swept under the rug. Problem gambling is a real and scary thing that could ruin lives and tarnish relationships with loved ones. If you or someone you know has a gambling problem, please call 1-800-522-4700 and seek help.