Mobile sports betting in New York raises gambling addiction concerns

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Carl Dellefav walked out of Turning Stone Casino in upstate New York on Dec. 28, 2009, with $8 to his name.

“I had maxed out all my lines of credit, I didn’t have anywhere else to turn to financially. I was spiritually bankrupt, I was emotionally disturbed, and I had hit my rock bottom,” Dellefav said.

Dellefav has been sober since then but said he still remembers the pain. He said he’s concerned about the instantaneous nature of mobile sports betting, which was just legalized in New York.

“I think the more opportunities they have for gambling in general, particularly on the mobile phone where it’s right in your pocket, right in your face all day long, the more people are gonna find it irresistible,” he said.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has said the state will receive a larger share of the revenue from mobile sports betting, which will help close the budget deficit and rebuild post-pandemic.

Dellefav countered: “At what cost?”

“Most people aren’t gonna turn into compulsive gamblers but a certain percentage of them will,” he said. “How about measuring it by the heartbreak you’re gonna cause for the compulsive gambler whose family can’t take his gambling addiction anymore?”

Jenna Hotaling, team leader for the Finger Lakes Problem Gambling Resource Center, said the organization maintains a neutral stance on gambling but wants people to know what to do if they have a problem.

“Anyone who calls in can be ensured that they will receive that treatment, they will receive a warm handoff to someone they feel comfortable speaking to about what they’ve been through,” she said.

Dellefav advised people to be honest with themselves and be willing to recognize if they need help.

“Really look at what you’re doing and why you’re doing it. When you’re not being truthful with yourself, with the people around you, with what you’re doing, where you’re going, that’s probably a good indication that you need some help,” he said.

Anyone who needs help or knows someone who may need help can call (585) 351-2262 or email FingerLakesPGRC@NYProblemGambling.org.

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