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Easier access to gambling raises concerns about more widespread gambling addiction

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Gambling addiction is sometimes referred to as a “hidden illness” because there are no obvious physical signs or symptoms like there are in drug or alcohol addiction.

Problems caused by excessive gambling are not just financial. Too much time spent on gambling can lead to relationship and legal problems, job loss, mental health problems including depression and anxiety, and even suicide.

Kansas recently legalized sports betting. That will generate new revenue but could increase problem gambling in the state.

And for many sports fans, the days of the once-a-year Super Bowl wager and NCAA office pool are gone. In much of the country, betting on sports is now as easy as tapping an app on your phone.

"Making gambling much more accessible to those younger generations puts them at higher risk," says Jaime Costello, director of programs for the National Council on Problem Gambling. "There were a lot of introductory ways that we're getting them interested," she says, citing fantasy sports as an example.

"So even on those edges, where it's not necessarily they might not be putting money in so it might not technically be gambling, they're still getting introduced to the concept and that just increases their risk later on," she explains.

Her company is neither for or against gambling, Costello clarifies. However, she says, as access to gambling increases, so should access to care for people who are struggling.

The National Council on Problem Gambling operates the National Problem Gambling Helpline Network (1-800-522-4700).

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When I host Up To Date each morning at 9 a.m., my aim is to engage the community in conversations about the Kansas City area’s challenges, hopes and opportunities. I try to ask the questions that listeners want answered about the day’s most pressing issues and provide a place for residents to engage directly with newsmakers. My email is steve@kcur.org.
Reginald David is an assistant producer with Up To Date. You can reach him at reginalddavid@kcur.org.
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