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Mobile betting changed the dynamic of problem gambling, advocate says

Jakub Porzycki
NurPhoto via Getty Images

Springtime in America means big-time sporting events like March Madness, Masters golf and playoff action in both the NBA and NHL.

For sports bettors, that can also mean problems with gambling.

“We used to think the problem gambler was the little old lady at the slot machine,” said Diana Goode, executive director of the Connecticut Council on Problem Gambling (CCPG). “Now the problem gambler is the 20-something male gambling on sports.”

Goode said calls to her organization’s gamblers helpline are up. And she said
beyond sports betting, there is an even greater driving force for getting gamblers into trouble: the relatively new phenomenon of online gaming, which has beenlegal in Connecticut for nearlythreeyears.

“We find that a lot of sports bettors, they have a season,” Goode said. “Online casinos are all the time.”

While most of those who get into trouble with sports betting are young males, Goode said online casinos that aren't tied to sports are where she sees more women getting in trouble.

That trouble can spread to the entire family. “Kids will borrow money from their parents, maybe they will open credit cards that they shouldn't have,” Goode said. “We get calls from a lot of kids that are using their college funds to gamble, so that really does affect everyone.”

The CCPG offers resources for problem gamblers and their loved ones. “Call the helpline number,” Goode said. “We can get you into counseling. That way, you can protect yourself. You can find out how to talk to that gambler.”

The Connecticut Council on Problem Gambling’s helpline phone number is 1-888-789-7777. Help is also available at responsibleplayct.org.

John Henry Smith is Connecticut Public’s host of All Things Considered, its flagship afternoon news program. He's proud to be a part of the team that won a regional Emmy Award for The Vote: A Connecticut Conversation. In his 21st year as a professional broadcaster, he’s covered both news and sports.

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