Chicago’s New Casino Spurs Concerns of Rising Gambling Harm

The opening of Bally’s casino in Chicago has brought excitement to the city, but this new high. History has shown that the expansion of gaming facilities in Illinois tends to correlate with a surge in individuals seeking treatment for gambling problems. While there hasn’t been an immediate influx of such cases since Bally’s opening, experts anticipate a steady rise in problem gambling cases.

More Bettors Mean Increased Exposure to Gambling Harm

The launch of Bally’s Chicago Casino has seen a strong start, attracting over 80,000 visitors in its first three weeks of operation. However, addiction treatment experts warn that the sudden influx of new gamblers could significantly impact local communities, pushing vulnerable individuals toward gambling harm. 

Anita Pindiur, executive director of Way Back Inn, a Maywood treatment center providing recovery programs for various addictions, explains that there is typically a time lag before an increase in clients seeking treatment becomes noticeable. For example, it took around six months for Way Back Inn to see a rise in clients following the opening of Rivers Casino in 2011.

The vast majority of people who go to the new casino will spend a little money… and then move on. But statistically, we know there are going to be some… who will need help.

Anita Pindiur, Way Back Inn executive director

Pindiur noted that more than a quarter of new clients seeking help at Way Back Inn had issues with sports betting, which was legalized under the same legislation that authorized the Chicago casino. As Bally’s Chicago ramps up operations, it is still uncertain how many individuals will require gambling addiction counseling.

Improved Accessibility Can Facilitate Addiction

Jeremy Klemanski, president of the nonprofit Gatewa lodivip y Foundation, also warned of the magnitude of the problem, stating that the rising number of gamblers set the foundation for a noticeable increase in individuals seeking help within a year. He added that the increased accessibility of gambling facilities made it harder for those with gambling issues to avoid triggers.

More:  Ohio’s Sports Betting Handle Exceeds $4 Billion In 2023

A 2021 state-commissioned study discovered that 3.8% of adults in Illinois, approximately 383,000 individuals, had a gambling problem. An additional 7.7%, roughly 761,000 people, were identified as being at risk of developing a gambling issue. These statistics suggest that there could be over 80,000 Chicagoans currently addicted to gambling, with even more at risk.

As Chicago’s new casino ushers in an era of increased gambling accessibility, the need for public awareness and robust support systems becomes more critical than ever. Treatment facilities and gambling harm prevention charities remain instrumental in mitigating the industry’s negative societal impact. These organizations cooperate with the State Department of Human Services to raise public awareness about gambling disorders and help vulnerable individuals.