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Casino Impact on Compulsive Gambling

Gambling2HOLYOKE, Mass. (WGGB) – Depression, secretiveness and disinterest in things you may have at one time enjoyed. All of these are signs that you or someone you care about may have a problem with gambling. While alcoholism and substance abuse are dangerous addictions, compulsive gambling can be just as dangerous. Gamblers often lose much more than money. Their jobs, homes and families may be lost as well.

The State Gaming Commission will award up to three casino licenses sometime next year. But its mission goes beyond that. At Thursday’s weekly meeting, people had the chance to go before the commission and voice their concerns over problem gambling which can leave some in a hole of desperation.

“There is a high correlation to rates of suicide with people with problem gambling so it can be a really significant problem for a lot of people,” said Baxter Chandler, Director of Behavioral Health Services at Holyoke Medical Center.

Holyoke Medical Center’s Behavioral Health Services has been working with the Massachusetts Council on Compulsive Gambling for years. In the last year, Holyoke Medical has trained twenty-five new therapists who will specialize in treating compulsive gambling.

“Now that casinos seem to be about to be much more active, we’re trying to be as proactive as possible,” explained Chandler.

According to Baxter Chandler, just because a casino may be coming to Springfield, that does not necessarily mean that we’ll see an increase in problem gambling here in the Pioneer Valley.

“People might have more access to it if we have a casino nearby but just like a liquor store doesn’t cause alcoholism, casinos by themselves don’t cause problem gambling,” said Chandler.

For now Behavioral Health Specialists at Holyoke Medical Center are trying to stay neutral on the casino issue.

If you or someone you know has a gambling problem you can call the Massachusetts Council on Compulsive Gambling at 1-800-426-1234. For additional resources you can visit their website at www.MassCompulsiveGambling.org.


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