FAIRFIELD, CT – State Senator Tony Hwang (R-28) joined Diana Goode, executive director of the Connecticut Council for Problem Gambling and a panel of gambling addiction experts to raise awareness about the rise in gambling addiction among Connecticut residents caused by sports and Internet gaming and calling for better funding for programs for people affected by addiction.
These panelists included Ingrid Gillespie of the Gambling Addiction Release Program; and Richard Bragg and Stephen Matos, both peer education counselors and recovering drug addicts.
On the eve of the NFL’s Super Bowl Sunday, one of the biggest sporting and gaming events in the world, the panel shared the startling data on the rise of gambling addiction, urged caution on the pervasive nature of online sports betting and called for additional funding for support. services that reflect the exponential increase in access to sports betting via online platforms.
Senator Hwang began the press conference: “We are here to raise warning flags and raise awareness of the lure of internet sports betting as a public health crisis.
“You can’t watch a sporting event without betting incentives. These free bait campaigns continue unabated during sports broadcasts. The rapid increase and proliferation of in-game betting fuels a compulsive gambler’s desire for more opportunities to bet faster, which is also dangerous and insidious. There is an opportunity to bet on every part of a game, to keep people playing, to keep people chasing the action.
According to Diana Goode, this pervasive nature is manifesting itself in a marked increase in the number of people seeking help by phone or online. Incoming calls to his organization’s 24-hour helpline from problem gamblers have recently quadrupled, and visits to his website in January 2022 alone equaled his annual total for 2021.
Among those seeking help, the demographics have also changed. Men in their twenties are now among the segment most at risk for problem gambling. “Because of the speed of play and in-play bets, they run into issues very quickly, and that affects us,” Goode said.
She also attributed advertising tactics to the rise of this demographic and beyond. “The game is not risk free, but a lot of these ads say it is risk free,” she added. “I don’t know exactly why it’s ok when it comes to gambling.”
Gillespie explained why online gambling particularly affects people in this at-risk segment and why additional funding for prevention programs is needed.
“From a brain development perspective to reach our youth…our developing young brains that are fully developed at 25 are much more susceptible to the dopamine rush that you get from gambling and other addictions. young people are just much more at risk of addiction,” she said.
Both Bragg and Matos shared personal stories of how they were also introduced to gambling at a younger age and how they work as peer education counselors to help those who suffer from gambling addiction. Game.
“It’s really hard for people to come forward and talk about it. About one in five disordered gamers will attempt or perform the act of suicide, and that’s largely because of shame and guilt. In my own life, I was in recovery for over 25 years…I never talked about my recovery from the game,” Matos said.
The solution, according to the panel, is increased prevention and awareness funding from the state and other entities that themselves benefit financially from online sports betting.
“The genie is out of the bottle, and thanks to all the professionals supporting those dealing with recovery. I ask that we recognize this public health issue and support the agencies, do the right thing, and donate a commensurate amount of money for prevention and to support our recovery efforts. This is not a commentary on gambling, but we need to talk about the warning signs and step in and support those suffering from this addiction to get the mental health support they need,” Senator Hwang said.
Watch the full FB Live press conference here.
Attached photo): Senator Hwang joins the CT Council for Problem Gambling, local experts and community members directly affected by problem gambling for a press conference at the Pequot Library in Southport to address problem gambling and request additional funding for prevention programs.
Senator Tony Hwang represents the state’s 28th Senate District which includes the cities of Easton, Fairfield, Newtown, Weston and Westport.www.SenatorHwang.com