HomeKentucky Sports Betting NewsKentucky’s Gambling Hotline Sees Surge in Calls Following Sports Betting Legalization

Kentucky’s Gambling Hotline Sees Surge in Calls Following Sports Betting Legalization

March has been designated as Problem Gambling Awareness Month, and Kentucky is facing a significant shift in the landscape of gambling addiction following the legalization of sports betting last fall.

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Michael Stone, the executive director of the Kentucky Council on Problem Gambling, has observed a steady number of individuals suffering from disordered gambling over the years. However, there’s a notable increase in public awareness regarding the signs and consequences of addiction.

The Kentucky problem gambling hotline has experienced a doubling in the volume of monthly calls recently. This uptick is not necessarily indicative of a rise in addiction rates but rather an increase in public awareness and willingness to seek help.

Stone emphasizes that the council’s role is neither to promote nor oppose gambling but to ensure the public understands the potential for addiction and the availability of assistance.

The Cost of Addiction

Estimates suggest that between 47,000 to 67,000 Kentuckians are disordered gamblers, with the state incurring approximately $430 million annually in related costs, including social services, unemployment, crime, and bankruptcy. This financial toll underscores the significant impact of gambling addiction on both individuals and the broader community.

One of the major challenges highlighted by Stone is the scarcity of resources for those seeking treatment. Approximately 80% of Kentucky lacks access to a certified gambling addiction counselor locally. However, there’s hope that a new fund created by tax revenue from legalized sports betting will help bridge this gap, although it will take time to achieve comprehensive coverage.

Seeking Assistance

For those struggling with problem gambling, help is available through the hotline at 1-800-GAMBLER (1-800-426-2537), where individuals can confidentially speak with a counselor. Additionally, a self-assessment tool is accessible on the Kentucky Gambling Help website, offering another avenue for support and guidance.

This surge in hotline calls and the spotlight on the need for more resources during Problem Gambling Awareness Month highlight the complex challenges and opportunities facing Kentucky in the wake of sports betting legalization. As awareness grows, so does the potential for addressing and mitigating the effects of gambling addiction within the state.