Compulsive gambling: Will NJ sports betting lead to more addicts?
Double the national average, 6.3 percent of New Jersey's population, has a gambling problem.
Neva Pryor, executive director of the Council on Compulsive Gambling of New Jersey, is almost certain the recent legalization of sports betting will bring more problem gamblers to light.
"We know that our costs will soar, and we're very concerned about that," Pryor told a legislative committee this month. The council, however, is neither for nor against gambling.
Ahead of committees' approval of the legislation on June 4, Pryor said 10 percent of the calls made to the council's confidential hotline are for problems related to sports betting.
Pryor said treatment costs are bound to rise, as well as costs related to marketing the resources available for those addicted to gambling.
A percentage of the fee paid for a license to run a sports wagering operation, according to the legislation, is appropriated to programs devoted to preventing, treating and educating about compulsive gambling.
Monmouth Park in Oceanport and Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa in Atlantic City opened their sportsbooks on Thursday, three days after Gov. Phil Murphy signed the bill into law.
State Senator Joseph Vitale (D-Middlesex), who voted in favor of the measure, said it brings an illegal endeavor under the law, which is beneficial for the state. But he's also concerned the practice could create or exacerbate a gambling problem.
"Hopefully, people will bet within their means and their limits, and not exceed that and not abuse that," Vitale said. "Because it not only has an effect on them, it could have an effect on their family."
If you or someone you know has a gambling problem, call or text 1-800-GAMBLER.