Letters to the Editor

Sports betting raises risk of problem gambling

On May 13th, Gov. Kim Reynolds signed legislation making Iowa the 13th state to offer legalized betting on professional and college sports. Iowans 21 years and older can now wager on sporting events at Iowa casinos as well as online once they have visited a casino to verify age. This new law also will include betting on fantasy sports online.

This change may be exciting for many Iowans. However, there is a portion of our population who are at a higher risk for gambling use disorders who may experience greater issues with this new law. The consequences of problem gambling can have an impact on family, friends, co-workers, and the community. In a 2015 study, 13 percent of adult Iowan’s reported experiencing problems with their gambling and 15 percent reported being negatively affected by the gambling behaviors of someone they knew. As with any addictive disorder, when accessibility and availability increase, so does participation and risk of problems.

Problem gambling is preventable. The state of Iowa has many prevention resources available at yourlifeiowa.org including information on responsible gambling, how to identify the signs of problem gambling and the risk factors for developing a problem. Lastly, 24/7 support and assistance is offered by calling 1-800-BetsOff, by texting 1-855-895-8398, or through live chat or video at yourlifeiowa.org.

An increase in local problem gambling does not need to be a product of this new law; “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”

Angela Harbour

Prevention Specialist

Area Substance Abuse Council in Cedar Rapids

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