Super Bowl spotlights how gambling addiction booms in Illinois with growing sports betting industry


Hundreds of soccer followers might be inserting their first authorized Tremendous Bowl bets in Illinois this weekend, and for many, just a little motion will make the large recreation only a bit extra entertaining.

However, for some, it would open the door to common betting, including a fast dopamine hit to the common season viewing expertise. Possibly they’ll have to start out budgeting for a brand new behavior. Possibly they’ll have to start out borrowing for it.

And, for a choose few, it would worsen.

It’s already gotten worse for a whole bunch of individuals statewide since Illinois legislators permitted a large gaming enlargement a 12 months and a half in the past, introducing authorized sports activities wagering to a state that’s already filled with extra locations to gamble than Las Vegas.

The COVID-19 pandemic has made issues even worse, in keeping with Luke, a Chicago-area downside gambler who was capable of get out of the sport 9 years in the past. Financial uncertainty and the final malaise of the quarantine life-style make playing all of the extra engaging.

“It was once that there was a stigma, and playing was taboo. It was seedy,” stated Luke, who requested that his full identify not be used. “Now, you are able to do it in your telephone. The businesses which might be doing it are publicly traded Fortune 500 corporations.”

A man who asked that he only be identified as Anthony reads news about the Super Bowl on his phone Friday.

A person who requested that he solely be recognized as Anthony reads information concerning the Tremendous Bowl on his telephone Friday.
Tyler LaRiviere/Solar-Occasions

Calls to the state’s playing dysfunction hotline greater than doubled from 2019 to 2020, when 13,258 individuals reached out both there or on-line for info on an issue that consultants say is out of sight however entrance of thoughts for a rising variety of bettors and their households. The Illinois Division of Human Providers, which goals to attach downside gamblers with counseling assets, calls {that a} “dramatic enhance.”

In 2019, about 580 individuals obtained therapy for playing issues by way of state-sponsored applications throughout Illinois. That determine jumped previous 1,000 in 2020, and consultants say it doesn’t even minimize the deck as solely an estimated 3% of downside gamblers acknowledge they’ve an issue, and even fewer search therapy.

A whole bunch extra took the extra drastic step of banning themselves from casinos and the smartphone betting apps which have them hooked. About 13,500 individuals had been enrolled within the self-exclusion program maintained by regulators on the Illinois Gaming Board in mid-2019, however that quantity has since shot previous 14,000.

Lots of these gamblers cite their temptations as coming from the state’s 10 casinos, three horse racing tracks and seven,233 bars, eating places, fuel stations and VFW halls that additionally home slot machines.

However since cell sports activities betting launched final summer season, Illinoisans can now gamble 24/7 from the consolation of house — they usually’ve already misplaced greater than $101 million doing so, in keeping with Gaming Board income figures.

Blackhawks analyst Eddie Olczyk placed Illinois first legal sports bet in March 2019. Gamblers across the state have wagered more than $1.4 billion since then — and lost $101 million.

Blackhawks analyst Eddie Olczyk positioned Illinois first authorized sports activities wager in March 2019. Gamblers throughout the state have wagered greater than $1.4 billion since then — and misplaced $101 million.
Ashlee Rezin Garcia/Solar-Occasions

Because the billion-dollar business retains rising, habit counselors say they’re listening to increasingly more from younger individuals glued to the sports activities betting apps whose adverts saturate Illinois airwaves and billboards.

“It’s in your face on a regular basis,” stated Dr. Teresa Garate of the Gateway Basis, a community of 16 habit therapy facilities statewide. “It’s turning into part of on a regular basis life. Everybody accepts it, nevertheless it’s a critical set off for some.”

That’s the case for Anthony, a 36-year-old recovering downside gambler from southwest suburban Tinley Park, who stated he usually finds himself altering the station as sports activities speak radio hosts dissect the newest betting traces.

“It’ll simply be an excessive amount of, it’s too shut,” Anthony stated. “Regardless that I don’t assume it’ll lead me down there, I do know higher than to let my thoughts begin considering like that.”

Anthony reads his favorite passages from ‘A Day at a Time’ a book by Gamblers Anonymous.

Anthony reads his favourite passages from ‘A Day at a Time’ a guide by Gamblers Nameless.
Tyler LaRiviere/Solar-Occasions

Elizabeth Thielen, a senior director at Nicasa Behavioral Well being Providers, stated she’s seen yearly will increase of individuals in search of assist for playing issues throughout Chicago’s north suburbs, however a “actual burst” of shoppers has sought them out prior to now 9 months.

“The ages we’re seeing are trending youthful, and I feel that’s straight associated to sports activities betting,” Thielen stated. “On the similar time, I really feel hopeful as a result of you may have younger individuals exhibiting a shocking stage of perception to search out assist.”

Way Back Inn executive director Anita Pindiur is pictured outside the Maywood facility in 2019.

Manner Again Inn government director Anita Pindiur is pictured exterior the Maywood facility in 2019.
Solar-Occasions file

Whereas there’s been an inflow of latest downside gamblers, the potential for relapse is an equal concern for Dr. Anita Pindiur, government director of the Manner Again Inn, a Maywood therapy middle. About 10 former sufferers have already returned to the Manner Again Inn for counseling this soccer season alone.

“Generally, we overlook how shortly it could possibly occur,” Pindiur stated. “This stuff are marketed in a manner that they’re enjoyable and entertaining, and they need to be. However usually there is no such thing as a set of limits or recognition of the boundaries till we get our credit-card invoice, or anyone factors it out.”

Apart from monetary wreck, consultants say individuals who endure from playing habit usually tend to endure from substance abuse points, flip to crime and even try suicide.

“I used to be dropping every part,” stated Patrick, a 35-year-old Niles man who’s 13 months faraway from his final wager. “I’d have a paycheck on a Friday afternoon and it will be passed by Friday evening. My relationships with my household and whoever I used to be relationship, it simply bought uncontrolled. I used to be mendacity, I used to be stealing, I used to be doing all these loopy issues.”

As sports activities betting has been introduced out of the shadows into on a regular basis life, counselors say their problem now’s eradicating the stigma round in search of therapy for habit — they usually say they’re making progress by way of elevated consciousness. That’s been boosted with the assistance of $7 million put aside within the state’s playing enlargement legislation in grants for therapy facilities, which have used a variety of that cash to bolster promoting.

The Way Back Inn is one of only a handful of addiction treatment centers in Illinois that provide a gambling-specific program.

The Manner Again Inn is one in every of solely a handful of habit therapy facilities in Illinois that present a gambling-specific program.
Solar-Occasions file

“One of many largest limitations to therapy is stigma, particularly for playing,” stated Garate, from the Gateway Basis. “Folks don’t see it as an actual habit. It’s, and assistance is on the market.”

Simply how many individuals need assistance is unclear. Consultants usually estimate that between 2% and 5% of the inhabitants take care of playing dysfunction, which might venture to about 635,000 individuals throughout Illinois, together with about 136,000 in Chicago.

However there’s been no complete research of the issue in Illinois since 1999, properly earlier than video slots dotted the partitions at 1000’s of institutions throughout the state and sportsbooks had been accessible anyplace that had a cellphone sign.

“It’s a must to imagine these numbers are totally different now,” Thielen stated.

The state Division of Human Providers is out to search out out simply how a lot they’ve shifted with the onslaught of playing choices. The company launched a $500,000 research final fall surveying therapy suppliers, downside gamblers and others to gauge the prevalence of habit, particularly amongst populations thought-about weak or marginalized because of race, tradition, financial or social disparity.

“We wish to know what’s the problem, and what ought to we search for,” stated David Jones, who directs the division’s Substance Use Prevention and Restoration Division. “Then, you can begin to deliver extra evidence-based options on a measurement in line with the size of the problem.”



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