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Gambling addiction on the rise in New York

New York sports betting hearing

The introduction of mobile sports betting in New York has contributed to widespread problem gambling among young adults. Despite this, the state is yet to issue funding to facilitate an all-out public awareness campaign.

During a recent legislative hearing, the director of the state’s Council on Problem Gambling, James Maney, revealed that due to the prevalence of gambling, adults aged 18-24 years have become “pathological gamblers”. He also pointed out that the state spent far more in advertising gambling than promoting avenues for gambling addicts to access counseling.

“I’ve heard a lot today about the economic benefits (from legalized gambling) — sure, but at what cost? We get the calls at one o’clock in the morning. We get the calls from parents now of college-aged kids losing their money, asking what to do,” the director said.

Maney further disclosed that since sports betting was introduced in New York, the number of calls made to his agency’s referral network had increased by 25%. He explained that the new strains on mental health services and several types of family trauma directly resulted from the growth of problem gambling.

“When dad loses money they have to move out of their house. What do you think the 10-year-old, 11-year-old goes through? They don’t call help lines. They don’t call looking for help. They arrive at our schools, in need of mental health counseling,” Maney said.

He stated that if a full-on public awareness campaign was sidelined, there would be even more gamblers. According to the director, the state needs to provide $10 million every year to promote aid for residents in the city to recognize the signs of problem gambling.

In the first year sports betting operators were licensed to offer gambling in the state, New York reached $909 million in revenue. Online sportsbooks made up $709 million of the total amount, while the total wagered on sporting contests amounted to around $16 billion.

According to Maney, around 3% of the revenue from online gambling should be used to fund services to cater to problem gamblers. He explained that compared to the numerous forms of addiction, compulsive gambling held one of the highest records of suicide.

“Let’s be honest: If you watch a sporting event, we know that every young boy watching the game is being bombarded with advertisements (for gambling) and we know advertisement works,” Maney said.

“We’re not doing enough. We have to make sure parents are educated. We have to make sure doctors are educated so when the kids come to pediatric care, they may address this issue.”

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