Editorials


Expansion Of Gambling Gambles With Lives

Published: April 11, 2019 at 04:30 pm

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Just as the Connecticut Council on Problem Gambling prepared to kick off the March Problem Gambling Awareness Month, the Connecticut General Assembly’s Public Safety & Security Committee voted to draft four pieces of legislation concerning sports betting and casino expansion.

*Proposed HB No. 7055 — An Act Creating The Connecticut Gaming Commission And Creating A Competitive Bidding Process For A Resort-Casino

*Proposed SB No. 11 — An Act Concerning The Authorization Of A Casino Gaming Facility In East Windsor

*Proposed SB No. 17 — An Act Authorizing Sports Wagering, Internet Gambling, And Internet Keno

*Proposed SB No. 665 — An Act Concerning Sports Wagering

The bills were met warily by Senator Tony Hwang (R-28), a ranking member of that committee, who “cautiously voted to draft legislative language and reserve his deciding committee vote,” according to a release issued last month, and who voted against the legislation during the March 19 Committee Meeting. Sen Hwang pointed out that currently, Connecticut’s tribal casinos are “showing diminishing returns” and that the highly touted Springfield, Mass., MGM casino “is underperforming,”

Sen Hwang is right to be reticent about expanding gambling in the state. While the carrot of increased state income is dangled, financial and human costs associated with gambling addiction are costs that may not be worth money brought in if Connecticut decides to chase that carrot.

According to The Connecticut Council on Problem Gambling, 1.5 to two percent of Connecticut’s population has a gambling disorder. It is not a big percentage, but it encompasses nearly 54,000 lives. Another eight percent are at risk for this disorder — an additional 300,000 residents negatively affected by gambling. Relatives, friends, colleagues, and employers are impacted by these tens of thousands of troubled people. With added access to gambling in our state, how many more lives will suffer due to the addictive gambling behavior that is characterized as a mental disorder?

Problem gambling results in debt, lying, theft, fraud, and job loss. Relationships are ruined and finances left in shambles as the problem gambler fulfills the thrill of winning.

Expansion of gambling preys on susceptible populations that can least afford it: young men, the less educated, those struggling with other personality disorders, and the unemployed.

Because of the many issues surrounding gambling addiction, it is hard to reflect the associated impacts of problem gamblers.

House Bill 7055 and Senate Bills 11 and 17 have been referred to the Office of Legislative Research and Fiscal Analysis as of early April; Senate Bill 665 has been voted to draft.

The Connecticut Council on Problem Gambling exists because gambling problems exist. A state problem gambling treatment program is in place because a problem exists. Would there be a state guide to warning signs of youth problem gambling, if there was not an issue? A nonissue does not require a gambling problem hotline, 1-888-789-7777 (or text CTGAMB to 53342).

Newtown may not be home to gambling facilities, but the internet is everywhere. Ease of gambling invites potential problems, wherever you live. Expansion of gambling is a gamble Connecticut should not take.

 

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