The Connecticut legislature will be debating on numerous bills related to legalized gambling and sports betting in its upcoming session. The bills, if passed, could bring online lottery ticket sales, sports betting operations and new casinos in the state. The jury is out on the impact of these casinos and operations on the state, but one thing looks certain- the state will earn some much-needed revenue and probably answer its budgeting woes.
The problem with Connecticut, however, lies in an estimated 35,000 people who suffer from gambling-related disorders. If these people get access to more gambling and betting options, their problems may worsen. The state will need tough policies managing these problem gamblers with the revenue they receive. It is important to note that problem gambling is a medically recognized issue and impacts a significant number of people. The behavioral disorder puts people at the risk of wreaking havoc on their personal and professional life due to excessive gambling.
Various surveys show that at least to 1 to 3 percent of adults in the state could be problem gamblers, which could lead to lost productivity, bankruptcy issues and even increased crime and need for social services. Currently, only three out of the eight states providing full-scale sports betting options have increased funding for problem gambling initiatives. Connecticut will also have to walk the same path and invest in its infrastructure to prevent social issues and provide treatment to the individuals at risk.
The National Council on Problem Gambling (NCPG) has suggested a few measures for the state to help minimize the potential social harm from problem gambling. It includes maintaining dedicated funds to tackle the problems, responsible gaming programs at sports betting operators, limits of time and money spent and the establishment of an industry watchdog that could enforce rules.
According to the NCPG, states should dedicate around 1 percent of their legalized sports betting revenue to problem gambling services. The Connecticut Council on Problem Gambling is expected to join in on the legislative sessions and help make this problem become known. It believes that states are only focusing on revenues that sports gambling may bring without thinking about its unwanted consequences.