Counselors believe mobile sports betting launch will lead to more gambling addictions

BALTIMORE — Mobile sports betting is expected to have a major economic impact in Maryland.

However, experts believe it will also lead to more gambling addiction. 

Online sports betting in Maryland will officially launch on Wednesday, after 10 apps were approved licenses last week. A soft launch for several apps was held Monday.

Mary Drexler, the Program Director for Maryland Center of Excellence on Problem Gambling, warns that increased accessibility to gambling could lead to addiction.

“Other states across the country have seen it where they have seen two or three times, after it has been out six months to a year, of their helpline calls increasing,” Drexler said.

A helpline is just one of the resources available to Marylanders. 

Maryland residents are eligible for no-cost counseling through the Center of Excellence, regardless of their ability to pay or insurance status. 

The Center of Excellence coordinates problem gambling research and treatment efforts in the state through a network of licensed counselors and peer counselors who have personal experience with gambling addiction. 

Carin Miller, one of those peer counselors, told WJZ she gambled for 30 years before seeking help. 

“It was really just a sad time in my life,” Miller said. “I woke up every morning ‘Where am I going to gamble? Where am I going to get the money to go gamble?'”

Miller said her gambling was out of control and she eventually got the help that she needed.

And, by helping people find their path to recovery helps her maintain her recovery. 

“Meet people where they are,” Miller said. “We don’t tell them how to find their recovery, we just give them the guidance to help them. We are here with compassion and understanding because we were there.”

The resources available to Maryland residents aren’t just for individuals seeking help. 

Family members and friends of someone who may need help can use the helpline (1-800 gambler) or the website to talk to someone to figure out how to get the conversation started. 

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