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Las Vegas Nonprofit Offers Gambling Issue Support amid Rise of Sports Betting

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As sports betting reaches record levels, a Las Vegas nonprofit is stepping up to offer assistance to those grappling with gambling issues. The surge in sports betting, particularly during high-profile events like the NFL playoffs and March Madness, has heightened the need for support for individuals who may be struggling with gambling addiction.

Insights from Ted Hartwell on Sports Betting Trends

Ted Hartwell, the executive director for the Nevada Council on Problem Gambling, highlighted the seasonal pattern of increased calls to the Problem Gambling Helpline during major sporting events.

It's not unusual to see a genuine ramping up of calls during this time of year, during the NFL playoffs, which then transitions almost immediately into March Madness, so another round of betting on basketball.

Ted HartwellExecutive director for the Nevada Council on Problem Gambling

The prevalence of online sports betting, especially since its legalization nationwide in 2018, has contributed to its thriving popularity. With 39 states now allowing some form of sports betting, concerns have been raised about the impact on vulnerable populations, including college students who may engage in underage or illegal gambling activities.

Hartwell expressed concern about the growing number of young people involved in sports betting, noting, "Many of the kids in college who are not yet of legal age to wager on sports or who may live in jurisdictions where it has not yet been legalized are engaging in gambling on sports, that should be of concern to all of us, including the industry."

Impact of Sports Betting Surge on Helpline Calls

Before the pandemic, the nonprofit's helpline received 3-4% of its calls related to sports betting. However, this figure has doubled since then, reaching 7 to 8 percent. Hartwell attributed this increase to a combination of factors, including heightened awareness due to TV advertising and the rise of top-tier sports teams in Las Vegas, which has fostered increased local engagement and fandom.

While the exact number of calls leading up to major events like the record-breaking Super Bowl LVIII is yet to be released, Hartwell emphasized the importance of providing accessible resources for individuals struggling with gambling addiction. The organization's helpline offers support and guidance free of charge, ensuring that help is available to anyone in need.

In conclusion, as sports betting continues to gain momentum across the country, it's imperative to address the potential risks and consequences associated with excessive gambling. The efforts of organizations like the Nevada Council on Problem Gambling play a crucial role in providing assistance and support to individuals and communities affected by gambling addiction.

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