New State Legislation May Increase Risk of Gambling Addiction

By Staff Writer

With many state’s facing large budget gaps, some lawmakers are looking to expand gambling in their districts to increase revenues. However, some mental health experts worry that this could have a dangerous impact on individuals who are struggling with gambling addiction and jeopardize the relapse prevention efforts of those who have recovered.

Currently Massachusetts, Illinois and Pennsylvania are all looking to either bring casinos to their state for the first time or expand the number of licenses they will allow. While these licenses will result in greater revenues for the states, they may also make it easier for those with betting problems to feed their habits.

Natasha Schull, an MIT professor who has studied gambling addiction, told 60 Minutes that the speed with which slot machines and other forms of casino gambling allow players to place bets can contribute to addiction at an alarming rate. She said that slot machines offer addicts a “higher dose.”

The first step to recovering from a gambling addiction and beginning relapse prevention efforts is to admit the problem and seek help for it, according to Gamblers Anonymous.