The state gambling hotline rings non-stop

Calls to Connecticut’s problem gambling hotline have more than tripled since the state implemented legal online sports betting, according to the nonprofit that operates the call center.

Calls and chats have increased 203% since Oct. 12, when DraftKings, FanDuel and PlaySugarHouse first opened their books, according to the Connecticut Council on Problem Gambling. That’s more than double the rise in calls reported by other states that went live last year, though Connecticut’s rise was inflated by so-called “nuisance calls.”

“We have been concerned and surprised by the increased volume of calls/chats from people seeking help with issues resulting from the impact of gambling-related harm,” said council spokesman Paul Tarbox. . “Typically, many people who suffer from gambling problems take a long time to get to the point where they decide to seek help.”

Around 75% of new calls come from punters seeking customer support, rather than addiction help, which the board calls “nuisance calls”. Diane Goode, the council’s executive director, attributes some of the confusion to limited explanation of the purpose of the hotline in carriers required by the state The advertisement.

The council increased phone line operators from three to five to help cope with the influx of calls, but Tarbox said more resources were needed.

“We expected more casino support than we received,” Tarbox said. “Their raise at the CT Council was minimal and did not allow us to market our responsible gambling website or helpline.

Under Connecticut law, DraftKings partners Mohegan Tribeowner of the Mohegan Sun casino, and partner of FanDuel Mashantucket Pequotowners of the Foxwoods Resort and Casino, must each pay $500,000 per year to support problem gambling programs. The state lottery, which runs sports bookmaker SugarHouse, is not required to pay.

Their annual fee was adjusted in 2021 since the tribes only held licenses from October to December. They probably financed a combination $219,000 until now.

“We take this issue very seriously, and it has been a core part of our commitment to our host communities and partners since we first opened our doors,” said Ray Pineault, CEO of Mohegan Gaming & Entertainment, in a press release sent by e-mail.

He highlighted the tribe’s endorsement of legislative efforts to study the extent of problem gambling and said it has contributed an additional $8 million to address problem gambling in all of its markets.

Foxwoods officials did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Virginia, which launched legal sports betting in January of last year, had a more modest uptick, but if you subtract Connecticut’s nuisance calls from the equation, the two match up quite similarly.

Calls to the Virginia hotline have increased 114% since its launch, according to Carolyn Hawley, president of the Virginia Council on Problem Gambling.

“To have such a leap forward is still shocking, however, based on our trends in the state of an increase in gambling legalization having a corresponding increase in helpline callers, it wasn’t surprising,” Hawley said. “This is linked to both a greater need for help with gambling problems and an increased awareness of the helpline number.”

About 1.1% of Connecticut adults are reported to have a gambling disorder, according to the National Association of Administrators for Disordered Gambling Services’ 2021 National Problem Gambling Services Survey.

The Connecticut Problem Gambling Live Chat service is available Monday through Friday from 5 p.m. to midnight. Operators monitor its call center, (888) 789-7777 or (800) 346-6238, 24 hours a day.

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