New York voters will head to the polls on November 5 to decide if the state should expand casino gambling by building seven Las Vegas-style casinos across the state.
While the expansion would likely bring jobs, lower taxes and more school aid, it would also bring with it the social costs of gambling addiction.
With just 22 state-sponsored gamblers treatment programs across the state—which don’t cover every county—the state would likely be unprepared for the increase in gambling addicts that would result from seven new casinos.
Jim Maney, Executive Director of the New York Council on Problem Gambling, says the state needs to increase public awareness.
“We do a good job in our schools raising awareness about the dangers of alcohol, tobacco and bullying, but we don’t do that for gambling,” Maney said. ”In fact, the message that kids are receiving today is that gambling is not only a harmless behavior, but the norm is it’s very acceptable. We’re pushing it no matter where it is.”
Maney says expanding the state’s gambling industry has major health implications for an already growing trend.
“It’s all around us and it’s increasing more every day,” he said. ”The casino amendment is just one aspect of that.”
Looking ahead, Maney says there needs to be more advertisements that raise awareness about gambling addiction to counter the lottery ads—and the potential casino ads—that may soon permeate our TV screens.