Shortage of Therapists Worries Kentucky Council on Problem Gambling

On September 7, Kentucky opened its doors to the world of legalized sports betting; three weeks later, on September 28, an interactive platform for mobile and internet wagers made its debut. This debut coincided with the release of FanDuel’s mobile sports betting app.

The number of people seeking professional therapy for gambling addiction increased in tandem with the millions of state revenues that sports betting brought in to the Bluegrass State.

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While a sizeable percentage of the wagering revenue goes toward Kentucky’s public pensions, another component goes to the state’s special fund intended to fight compulsive gambling. The Kentucky Council on Problem Gambling’s President, Dr. RonSonlyn Clark, underlined the significance of using these money effectively to address the new problems in the state.

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Clark discussed the difficulties brought on by the gambling industry’s fast technological development, which permits gambling “from the comfort of your home in your pajamas 24/7, every day of the year.” He also emphasized the issue of Kentucky having just five licensed compulsive gambling counselors. The demand for problem gambling help is anticipated to increase as a result of the predicted spike in new players that legalized sports betting would bring.

According to figures cited by Clark, up to 2% of gamblers could need “some treatment,” and the volume of calls to the 1-800 gambling hotline is rising. Regarding the current infrastructure for problem gambling help, Clark recognized its “some infrastructure” but emphasized the need for more development.

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The Kentucky Council on Problem Gambling has announced intentions to provide extensive training in early 2024 with the goal of providing prospective gambling counselors with the appropriate skills in response to this developing crisis.

Clark also called attention to the troublingly high suicide rate among those who struggle with gambling addiction. According to Clark, 20% of those who struggle with gambling-related issues brought on by financial hardships, humiliation, secrecy, guilt, and family responsibilities will try or succeed in suicide.

By emphasizing the “addictive quality” frequently connected to gambling, Clark drew comparisons to drug and alcohol dependence as well as a number of other behavioral addictions. According to Clark, these addictions are frequently impacted by a person’s genetics, lifestyle, environment, and need to learn new coping skills.

In order to address these problems, Clark voiced a great wish to see a special rehabilitation facility built to aid in healing; the project is expected to cost between $2 and $3 million yearly.

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The mission of the Kentucky Council on Problem Gambling, which was established almost three decades ago, is to serve as the state’s principal authority on problem gambling concerns. Promoting preventative initiatives, spreading awareness, and teaching those who are struggling with gambling-related issues are all part of their purpose. The legalization of sports betting in Kentucky is expected to bring in a bonanza of money, but it also emphasizes the urgent need for extensive support services to lessen the negative effects of addiction.

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