Connecticut lawmakers

Lawmakers Drill Down on Problem Gambling

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Since online and sports betting went live last fall for the first time, Connecticut gamblers have wagered $2.6 billion online. However, vague requirements mean none of that has gone to the Connecticut council on problem gambling. 

“Our calls have quadrupled to the hotline,” Diana Goode, executive director of the Connecticut Council on Problem Gambling, said.

Goode said calls have increased but they don’t have the money to answer the calls. 

She said Yale is working on a new treatment program, but it won’t be running for three to five years.

“That doesn’t help us when we get calls on Monday morning from people who have lost everything sports betting over the weekend,” Goode said.

What can be done? 

“Our issue really is marketing the help line,” Goode said.  

Goode said the casinos, which are supposed to each give the council $300,000 this year, could do more.

“Our issue really is with prevention funding and getting people into these treatment programs,” Goode added.

The two federal tribes that manage the casinos say they are doing more than they’ve been asked.

“It is early on and we certainly continue to be involved in responsible gambling to make sure we’re putting the measures in place,” Ray Pineault, regional president of Mohegan Gaming and Entertainment, said.

Pineault said they are willing to give more money to the issue.

“None of us benefit from servicing people who have a problem with it,” Pineault said.

The Connecticut Lottery which partnered with Rush Street Interactive to manage its online and sports betting operations said they are doing what they can to catch problem gambling early on. 

“We do offer protections on our mobile app. We offer limit setting tools, cool offs, we do offer a players a chance to exclude if they would like to for one or five years,” Tammi Barlow of Rush Street Interactive said.

“Either way we’re going to fully fund our commitment,” Mashantucket Pequot Chairman Rodney Butler said.

Butler said they are spending more than the half million they’re required to contribute under the law for a full year of operation. 

“We’re spending three to four times that number on our own initiatives and marketing and the like,” Butler said.

Lawmakers said they want to see more data on problem gambling over the next few months to determine whether more needs to be done.

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