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Problem-gambling council supporting study of youth gambling in state

November 24, 2018

Anticipating an upsurge in gambling, the Connecticut Council on Problem Gambling is supporting a Yale professor’s study of problem gambling among the state’s youth and other at-risk populations, such as those with mental health issues.

“In my opinion, we’re going to see a real increase in gambling in the next year or two,” said Diana Goode, the council’s executive director. “This research will help us get a snapshot of the state of youth gambling in advance of any expansion of legalized gambling in the state. It will give us an opportunity to inform treatment, services and resources going forward as well as gauge the impact of expanded gambling on our most vulnerable and at-risk populations.”

Recent and proposed casino development in the Northeast and the likelihood that Connecticut and other states will legalize sports wagering and online betting warrants the study, Goode said.

“We’re not for it or against it,” she said of legal sports betting. “We just want to make sure safeguards are in place for those who might have a problem. We’re disappointed that nationally only two or three of the eight states that have legalized it have included funding for problem-gambling services. It’s irresponsible.”

Goode said the research should prove relevant to the Connecticut Lottery Corp.; the state Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services’ Problem Gambling Services; Sportech Venues, which operates the state’s off-track betting locations; and the southeastern Connecticut casinos: Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun.

The study is being conducted by Dr. Marc Potenza, professor of psychiatry, neuroscience and child study at the Yale School of Medicine. Potenza, who was attending a World Health Organization meeting on gambling last week in China, was not immediately available to comment.

Goode said the council is providing funding support for Potenza’s study by diverting a portion of the funding it receives from the state, the lottery and the casinos.

“We think it’s really important,” she said of the study.

Goode, named to lead the council in September, said she’s hoping to have the Wethersfield-based nonprofit get more involved in research. She also said she hopes the state legislature will appropriate funding next year for a new study of the impact of legalized gambling on the state. The last such study was published in 2009.

Goode also is hoping to diversify the council’s funding sources.

She noted that both Connecticut casinos are in discussions with the British Columbia Lottery Corp. regarding GameSense, a responsible gambling program implemented by MGM Resorts International properties, the Connecticut lottery and the Massachusetts Gaming Commission, among others.

Ray Pineault, Mohegan Sun’s president and general manager, said the program emphasizes that gamblers should gamble for enjoyment, that they should understand the odds involved in playing particular games and that they should know how to access help with problem gambling, if necessary. The program also involves training for casino employees.

b.hallenbeck@theday.com

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