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Addiction counselor concerned about popularity of sports gambling in Indiana

Addressing addiction in sports gamling

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Before sports gambling was legal in Indiana, gamblers had to go to Las Vegas to legally place a bet. In 2019, the Indiana General Assembly legalized sports betting.

“Not only can you bet on the outcome of the game before it starts, you can live bet on it. You can even bet on what you think the next play is going to be, you can bet on players you can bet on totals,” said Jason Hammer, host of the Nigel & Hammer show on WIBC-FM.

Ohio and Illinois followed Indiana by legalizing sports gambling. Online sports betting will go live in Kentucky on Sept. 28. According to the Associated Press, since the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 5 years ago that states can allow sports betting, Americans have wagered $220 billion.

Win or lose, gambling can be diagnosed as an addiction especially when it interferes with your ability to pay bills or fulfill job responsibilities.

“People that have a problem with gambling if you will chase that high. That feeling you get when you win, when you beat the odds,” Kimble Richardson, a licensed mental health counselor with Community Health, said.

Richardson said problem gambling doesn’t just bankrupt people, it can destroy their lives and relationships with others.

“For some people, this issue takes over their life to such a degree that they get to a point where they feel hopeless, and helpless and even have thoughts of suicide.”

Hammer said sports gambling is here to stay and the problems it may create won’t be limited to the fans who bet on sports.

“There’s going to be a major scandal where somebody was taking a dive, point shaving, that’s going to happen, and you’re probably going to find it at the college ranks,” he said.

The Indiana Gaming Commission has a voluntary exclusion program for people struggling with gambling can sign up for. There is also an internet self-restriction program.

Anyone struggling with gambling can also call the Indiana Gambling Problem Referral line at 800-994-8448.