Source: NJTV Online
With sports betting now legal in New Jersey, you can bet online, with your phone, at the racetrack, and the old-fashioned way in the casino.
At a conference by the Council of Compulsive Gambling of New Jersey, the new, easy access to placing bets sparked worry that the state’s gambling addiction problem will only grow worse.
“With the internet gaming, you’ve got ease of game,” said Neva Pryor, executive director of the Council on Compulsive Gambling of New Jersey. “It’s that accessibility that makes it so easy — that’s what our concern is. We want to make sure that if individuals are gambling, and if they develop a problem, that they know where to go for help.”
A Rutgers University survey last year found that 70 percent of New Jerseyans placed at least one bet in the past year, and that 6.3 percent of New Jersey residents had a gambling disorder — about three times the national average.
“Two years from now, you won’t be able to get a seat at a Gamblers Anonymous room, because what happens is people that would never gamble sports illegally are now gambling on sports,” said Arnie Wexler, co-founder of the Council on Compulsive Gambling of New Jersey
Counselors see a rise in addiction from two distinct groups: seniors who find that the casinos stave off loneliness, and young people who tend to bet on sports.
It’s estimated one in five gambling addicts will try to commit suicide, and gambling addicts have a higher rate of domestic abuse, bankruptcies and depression. They also abuse alcohol and drugs, so the conference also looked at how marijuana, which the state may legalize for recreational use, fits into gambling.
“So far, some of our early data is showing that among our patients with gambling disorder, that they do use cannabis at higher rates on average,” says Dr. Timothy Fong, professor of addiction psychiatry at the University of California in Los Angeles. “But will cannabis make gambling disorders worse? Could it be a treatment for gambling disorder? How will the casino industry react?”
And with legalized sports betting, will New Jersey become a one-stop pharmacy for gamblers to get their fix?
The Council of Compulsive Gambling of New Jersey has a 24-hour helpline at 1 800 GAMBLER (426-2537).