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Compulsive gambling growing problem as number of casinos in region increase

Southern Arkansas University

As gambling casinos continue to open up across the state, the shadow of compulsive gambling grows larger. One Syracuse area gambling addiction clinic is already booked.

Right now, the Syracuse Behavioral Healthcare Gambling Clinic can handle 15 patients at a time, according to integrated outpatient service director Kathi Meadows. And often that’s not enough.

“We actually had people who were coming that we successfully completed. They would have stayed longer, but there was a need to complete them, so we could get more people in the door,” said Meadows.

Meadows says her agency is concerned about the proliferating number of slot machines and gaming tables becoming available to people with gambling problems. In central New York that includes the Del Lago Casino that recently opened up in Seneca County, and news that the Oneida Nation plans to build a gaming facility in Bridgeport. And it’s forced SBH to think about expanding services.

"It is a concern in that there is more access for gambling for people, especially young people. Because you can go to gambling casino’s at age 18 and it’s easy to spend money. We’ve had students who’ve lost a large sum of money as a result of their gambling,” said Meadows.

New York state could help. Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced this year Albany is coming up with $4.7 million in annual funding for gambling outreach, education and treatment. The state is creating seven problem gambling resource centers across the state.

Ellen produces news reports and features related to events that occur in the greater Syracuse area and throughout Onondaga County. Her reports are heard regularly in regional updates in Morning Edition and All Things Considered.