The Massachusetts Council on Compulsive Gambling is preparing communities for problem gambling as the Bay State awaits the arrival of casinos. The Council held a symposium today at UMASS Amherst to address the dangers of gambling addiction.
Massachusetts resident Jody, who asked that only her first name be used, is a recovering compulsive gambler. She lost her job, home, marriage and spent time in jail for embezzlement after years spent at slot machines at Connecticut’s Foxwoods casino. She calls herself an optimist but says she can’t see anything positive about casinos moving to the state.
“Casinos spin dreams not just for the people who are playing but I think for the communities they are going into and if they don’t have the treatment facilties or the help to access what is going on in the communities as well as to make sure the mom and pops don’t disapear.,” she said. “They want their town. They want their own culture.”
The Council’s executive director, Marlene Warner, says it has 13 small treatment centers to treat gambling addiction, but none located in Massachusetts. She says the Council’s resources are already stretched to treat gambling addicts across the state. She wants the state’s new gambling oversight board to make sure additional support is available not just when casinos arrive, but for years to come.
“They get that this issue is a problem and I do believe they are committed. I want that commitment to remain and I want it to not be forgotten in twenty years when we still have casinos, we still have problems but the state has moved onto something else.,” she said.
And bottom line, Warner says she is sure that new casinos in Massachusetts will mean new problem gamblers in Massachusetts. She says it will take the thoughtful by regulators, clinicians and industry owners to ensure those numbers are kept at a minimum.