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Concerns raised expanding gambling in Illinois will increase other addictions

The Center Square

Illinois may follow suit with six states that currently allow online casino gambling, and the executive director of Illinois Church Action on Alcohol and Addiction Problems says there will be repercussions if this comes to fruition.

At a recent East Coast Gambling conference, panelists say Illinois could soon adopt internet gambling behind Michigan, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Delaware and Connecticut. Indiana, Iowa and New York are also considering adopting online gambling. Sports betting is currently legal in a total of 30 states and the District of Columbia.

Rev. Shane Hartman said there are so many negatives that outweigh the positives.

“There’s all these cross addictions with gambling and alcohol,” Hartman told The Center Square. “And all these things that go together, the suicide rates go through the roof with this online gambling.”

According to Hartman, the odds of developing a gambling addiction increase 23-fold for individuals who are already dealing with alcohol dependency.

“Twenty-three times,” Hartman said. “It’s just scary. They’re already struggling with another addiction and then they’re just going to put this on top of it.”

Hartman said that 3.8 percent of adult Illinoisans, or about 383,000 people, are considered to already have a gambling problem and if the state adopts online gambling, he thinks that number will explode.

“It’s crazy,” Hartman said. “I mean, it’s going to be a spiral. There is a loophole now that you can gamble online, but those companies are based overseas and it’s unregulated.”

The ILCAAP is a non-profit organization in Illinois that strives to prevent issues that arise from problems with alcohol, other drugs and gambling.

The organization was established in 1898 with a mission to “open doors to freedom from addictive behavior for individuals and families in Illinois through public information, education and legislation.”

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