How can Massachusetts prevent gambling addiction in sports betting?

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The Massachusetts legislature recently passed a law effectively legalizing sports betting in the state. While there is no doubt that there are substantial gains to be made, many other aspects are in flux, especially regarding gambling addiction. About 2.6% of the US adult population have a serious gambling problem, It is estimated that over 80% of people suffer from some form of gambling addiction. never seek treatment.

Keith White, Executive Director of the National Gambling Council, has joined GBH’s Arun Rath. all things considered To give you more insight into the consequences of recently passed legislation and your options on how to treat gambling addiction. Below is a lightly edited transcript.

Arun Lass: So, before talking about Massachusetts law, I felt that the discussion about this was about how the law would be enforced – and much more about people facing problem gambling. did not appear to have had any conversations and how they would be affected by this. Can you give us a rough idea of ​​what legalizing sports betting in Massachusetts means for people with gambling problems?

Keith White: of course. And I think a lot of these conversations were taking place behind the scenes, and certainly at the legislative level. There was great interest among them. And one of the things that made that conversation possible is the exemplary work done by the Massachusetts Gaming Health Council. [new] Casino Laws. Massachusetts is perhaps better positioned than any other state to deal with the expansion of sports betting due to the efforts that have been made in casinos over the past six or seven years.

Russ: And I’d like to talk a little bit more about this — well, let’s start with the terminology. There is something called “self-exclusion”. Please tell me what it is, how it works with the law, and how it can help those facing this.

white: Well, voluntary self-exclusion is great in that it allows someone to say, “I have a gambling problem and make this deal with gambling operators, casinos, sportsbooks, and possibly lotteries.” And all I ask is that you make every reasonable effort to keep me off your premises and prevent me from gambling any further. Please take me out of the facility and, if possible, let me receive treatment.

These self-exclusion programs are therefore powerful because they are initiated by the individuals themselves. I am asking for

Russ: And is it something that works in other states? And talk about how it has worked so far in Massachusetts.

white: I think there are some real concerns about how self-exclusion works. In some cases, it can place too much responsibility on individuals who may have gambling problems that are out of their control. . Because, again, operators put a lot of strain on individuals. In jurisdictions like Massachusetts, there are a number of gaps in self-exclusion (often state-specific) as there are many options across borders and illegal offshore gambling websites. I know there is

But perhaps most importantly, self-excluded people need problem gambling treatment that is available, accessible, and affordable. Not so in jurisdictions, even more so nationally. Therefore, effective self-exclusion requires a strong and comprehensive problem gambling services program.

Russ: I think we’re still working out the details, so please talk a little bit more about that.I don’t believe there is sports betting Until the end of this year, maybe the beginning of next year. Once sports betting is legal, what would be the ideal way to do it in Massachusetts?

“This technology being adopted by the gambling industry could potentially be used to create a better safety net for people with gambling problems.”

Keith White, Executive Director of the National Problem Gambling Council

white: Technology in sports betting can obviously have many negative effects. As you know, high availability. it’s on your phone. Open all year round. Fast. But the same technology could also be used to associate a statewide self-exclusion list with a cell phone or a credit card shared by all operators in Massachusetts. , if you do, you can voluntarily opt out once and that information will be shared by all Massachusetts gambling operators but may be protected. So fewer gaps and more safety nets are created.

The technology can also provide reminders. We even saw an app that warns you when you go near an excluded casino. While this technology may increase gambling problems, it can also provide better services for prevention and treatment. It depends on what you do. It is up to the Ministry of Health to ensure that treatment is available. There are many stakeholders in this, but together, the technology employed by the gambling industry could be used to create a better safety net for people with gambling problems. There is a possibility

Russ: In Michigan, where sports betting is legal, their self-exclusion is for two years, previously only a lifetime ban. Can you talk about how to work out what is right, what is too strict, and how much time is appropriate?

white: Now you’ve run into one of the core problems of self-exclusion. There aren’t many studies that tell us what’s more salient: 1 year versus 2. Is it different than 5 years? Many jurisdictions offer lifetime. Some jurisdictions only offer Lifetime, which we consider to be too much of a burden. We believe this will discourage people with gambling problems from seeking help. Some say that being on the self-exclusion list gives them time to sit back in a calm state of mind. Decide to move on. what is the best option for you?

Right, I’m not exactly sure what the best menu of options to offer the excluder is, but it’s probably 1 year, maybe mid-term, 5 years, and there should be lifetime options. For us, this is a chronic disease that has no cure, so we are just recovering. You need to be able to

Russ: We’re talking about so many people, but for the vast majority of people mentioned at the beginning of this article, most people facing serious gambling problems don’t seek help. ? What are your fears about what will happen to them once this is in the books or what you can do to help them?

white: Indeed, young men, especially those with higher education and higher incomes, are much more likely to bet on sports and believe that betting on sports is far more likely to cause them problems. .

their families, employers and friends. Problem gambling is an addiction much like substance abuse, and it’s not just individuals who are adversely affected by it: it affects 17 of her to 25 of her members of the family and community. increase. The substance that problem gamblers abuse, if anything, is money. And there can be people who have lost millions of dollars in money and embezzled or stolen to feed their addictions. And those impacts ripple through communities and societies as a whole.

Therefore, Massachusetts will continue to carefully weigh the costs and benefits of gambling expansion, spending as much money as possible to mitigate possible increases to the problem, much like operators do in advertising and marketing. have to spend.

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