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Legalized mobile sports betting in New York leads to concerns about problem gambling

Problem gambling could be labeled a psychiatric disorder before long.
Problem gambling could be labeled a psychiatric disorder before long.

An estimated 5% of New Yorkers have a gambling disorder. That’s according to the Central Problem Gambling Resource Center in East Syracuse.

Elizabeth Toomey from the center said problem gambling is known as the hidden addiction because it can often be kept from others until the side effects are very serious.

She said it’s important to keep an eye out for the symptoms.

“Neglecting other responsibilities to concentrate on your gambling, increased amount of money, you say you’re only going to spend $20, then all of a sudden, you’re up to $100. Looking for bailouts,” she said.

Toomey said problem gambling can also lead to people feeling desperate, depressed, or even suicidal. And now that mobile sports betting is legal in New York state, Toomey said the problem has the potential to get even worse, especially for anyone using gambling as an escape from their worries.

"With mobile sports betting, it's your device,” she said. “So, it's something you can do 24/7, and when there's more access to it, there's more chance of having issues and problems with it."

But Toomey said there is always hope, and she advises anyone struggling with gambling or worried about a loved one to reach out to the Central Problem Gambling Resource Center at (315) 413-4676.

Jessica Cain is a freelance reporter for WRVO, covering issues around central New York. Most recently, Jessica was a package producer at Fox News in New York City, where she worked on major news events, including the 2016 presidential conventions and election. Prior to that, she worked as a reporter and anchor for multiple media outlets in central and northern New York. A Camillus native, Jessica enjoys exploring the outdoors with her daughters, going to the theater, playing the piano, and reading.