For those who are against the casino referendum, the reasons for their opposition vary. Those who see the consequences of gambling addiction say this may be adding fuel to a flame that's endangering the at-risk. Innae Park reports.
ALBANY, N.Y. –- “An enormous amount of emotional pain. Horrible dysfunction in their lives. Devastation in the families.”
These can be the outcomes for a pathological gambler, according to Jerry Kriss. Kriss is the Director at the Center for Problem Gambling, a program within the Family and Children’s Service of the Capital Region. He has counseled many gambling addicts.
“About 10 percent of the gambling population are what we call at-risk gamblers, which means they are in danger of developing a pathological gambling issue,” Kriss said.
A referendum to allow non-Indian casinos in New York is on the table, which would include funds to prevent and treat problem gambling. However, those who work with gambling addicts say it's only asking for trouble.
“With more opportunity, more availability, comes more problems,” said Jim Maney.
Maney is the executive director of the New York Council on Problem Gambling. Though the council doesn't take a specific stance on the referendum, its goal is to ensure there are enough services and more awareness.
Maney said, “As we increase gambling in the state of New York, it's all our responsibilities to take a look. It doesn't just affect the individual and the family, but affects our communities.”
The key is stopping it before it's too late.
“Pathological gambling has the highest rate of suicide amongst all the addictions,” said Maney.
Kriss said, “They can't stop, they commit crimes. They will do whatever behaviors they need to do to keep gambling.”
There are local services and help available. More information can be found at knowtheodds.org, or you can call the hotline 1-877-8-HOPE-NY.