More than $13 billion is wagered throughout the year, since mobile sports betting became legal.
That’s according to the Western and Finger Lakes Problem Gambling Resource Center. It’s a private, non-profit organization through the New York Council on Problem Gambling. They raise awareness and connect people to treatment, support and services.
Since mobile sports betting became legal, there has been a dramatic uptick in the amount of people reaching out for help, according to Jeffrey Wierzbicki, Western New York and Finger Lakes Team Leader. He said 50% of callers are under the age of 30, or parents of the college-aged demographic .
“They’re reaching out for help because their younger child is getting involved in sports betting,” Wierzbicki said. “In the past, we’ve seen some of these gambling problems take a little longer to develop. With mobile sports betting, it’s happening very quickly for people and it’s happening to a younger audience a lot faster than it has in the past.”
Problem gambling and gambling addiction impact dopamine receptors in the brain the same way other addictions do, according to Wierzbicki.
Gambling addiction is diagnosable by a clinical professional. Problem gambling is just as it sounds, when gambling starts to effect one’s life in a negative way. “Whether that means financially, with your children, with your family, with work, depression or anxiety, it’s problem gambling,” he added. “If someone is just experiencing insomnia because they can’t stop thinking about their bets, but they’re not experiencing financial problems, it’s still problem gambling. We’d like them to reach out for help.”
The Finger Lakes PGRC said it’s there to help anyone who is looking to reprioritize their lives and overcome the problems that gambling caused. Call (585) 351-2262 or email [email protected].
“If someone doesn’t have insurance, we’ll help cover the cost for them,” Wierzbicki added. “If anybody out there notices they’re spending more and more, before you get to the point of bankruptcy, divorce or depression, reach out and we’ll help you get on the road to recovery.”
Rebecca is a veteran multimedia journalist serving as one of our core reporters in the Finger Lakes region. She is responsible for telling stories that matter to every day Upstate New Yorkers. Have a question or lead? Send it to [email protected].