Home Gambling Sports betting brings a tax windfall – and an increase in problem gambling | Chicago News

Sports betting brings a tax windfall – and an increase in problem gambling | Chicago News

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Since opening to sports betting in 2019, Illinois has quickly become one of the nation’s top gaming markets.

Last year alone, Illinois residents wagered $7.1 billion according to the Illinois Gaming Board.

Now, just in time for March Madness, Illinois has removed the in-person registration requirement for sports bettors, making it even easier to gamble using online apps.

But the expansion of the game is not without cost.

Treatment service providers who work with people with gambling disorders say they have seen an increase in the number of people seeking help with gambling addiction.

“When you bring something like gambling to a large segment of the population, state by state, you’re going to see people start experiencing harm from gambling,” said Daniel Trolaro, vice president and gambling prevention specialist. game at Epic. Risk Management, a global consulting firm focused on minimizing harm from gambling. “It’s the law of large numbers, the more you offer it, the more you’re going to have a percentage of people who struggle with it across the country.”

Trolaro, who is himself in recovery from gambling addiction, says it is estimated that around 2% of the population struggles with some type of gambling disorder.

But he says problem gambling “exists along a continuum and that’s where the numbers get much bigger”.

He says that in his home state of New Jersey, a Rutgers University study found nearly 6% of people have gambling-related disorders.

One of the reasons for the massive expansion of gambling and gambling related problems is that online applications now make it so easy to place a bet.

“(When) a person has the ability to bet 24/7 from the comfort of their own home, it also increases the likelihood of developing problematic tendencies or habits,” says Trolaro.

And although people seeking to control problem gambling in casinos can sign up to participate in a voluntary exclusion program that prevents them from entering casinos, there is no equivalent program for people who gamble online. line.

“What we’ve seen is an increase in people having easier access to gaming right from their phone without having to leave their homes,” said Teresa Garate, senior vice president of the Gateway Foundation, a non-profit organization that treats many types of addiction, including gambling addiction. “So people who may be in long-term recovery and don’t go to casinos or other can now do so from home. The triggers are therefore much more present and widespread for these people.

Garate says that the suicide rate among compulsive gamblers is five times higher among people with a gaming disorder. She says that in many ways, gambling addiction is no different from drug addiction, except that it is often more easily concealed.

“Gambling addiction is a lot like any other addiction,” says Garate. “Addiction is a disease of the brain. It is not a moral fault. And when people play… you get the same kind of high, you get the same kind of euphoria, you can’t stop, you can’t stop, you just keep going.

For the online gambler, it’s not just winning that counts, it’s the anticipation of the next bet, says Trolaro.

“There’s a lot going on with the brain and (the game) is overstimulating certain areas, which can make it harder for someone to get into recovery and sustain it.”

For Trolaro and Garate, the key to mitigating the harm that widespread and easily accessible gambling can cause is prevention through education and treatment for those who need it.

“Prevention is always key,” says Trolaro. “Before the treatment you talk about prevention, passing legislation and language that integrates play education into the K-12 school system would be huge.”

Trolaro says any state that embraces gambling for revenue generation should also implement a gambling-related program for use in the school system to educate young people about the dangers “just like they do with drug use, alcohol and other substances”.

Garate says reducing the stigma and shame of addiction is crucial, and the biggest challenge is educating the public.

“If someone comes home with their loved one every night drunk, that loved one will know there is a problem. It’s going to be very clear and therefore not make it any easier, but it will be a bit more obvious to the family member that they need to tell their loved one about it,” says Garate. “When it comes to gambling, they could be playing without anyone knowing for a very long time, so education and awareness is really key.”

Illinois Gaming Board website offering resources and assistance for problem gamblers.

Note: This story will be updated with a video.