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Calls to Connecticut problem gambling help line have quadrupled since online sports betting enacted

Rows of new sports betting kiosks at Mohegan Sun in Uncasville, Conn., await gamblers on Thursday, Sept. 30, 2021.
Susan Haigh
Associated Press

The Connecticut Council on Problem Gambling said they have seen calls to their helpline quadruple since last October, when online gambling and betting services became legal in the state.

“We get calls from people on a Monday morning saying they haven’t gambled in 10 years, 15 years and they’re getting these pop-up ads, they’re getting this marketing material, sounds like its risk free. They get on, they lose everything. So, I was shocked at how fast people are really running into trouble with online gambling” said Diana Goode, the council’s executive director.

The hotline reports a 96% increase in calls last December compared to the same period the year prior, before when there wasn’t online wagering. Goode told the state’s Public Safety and Security Committee this week that many of the calls for help are coming from young men.

“Because it’s so fast they’re running into trouble before they can really comprehend how much money they’ve actually lost. So, it used to be when we thought about a problem gambler, we thought about the little old lady at the slot machine. Now, the problem gambler is the 20-something male who’s gambling at home.”

Goode said she wants the two federally recognized tribes that run two casinos in the state to each provide $500,000 more a year to it’s problem gambling hotline.

The Mashantucket Pequot tribe, which runs Foxwoods Casino, and the Mohegan tribe, which runs Mohegan Sun, already provide at least $500,000 each to local responsible gaming programs.

An award-winning freelance reporter/host for WSHU, Brian lives in southeastern Connecticut and covers stories for WSHU across the Eastern side of the state.