A new MGM casino opened approximately six months ago in Springfield, Massachusetts, and mental health counselors have reported seeing an increase in patients suffering from gambling addiction. WBUR News spoke to several counselors about the new phenomenon.
One mental health counselor reported a drastic increase to now 85 percent of her patients’ gambling regularly.
“So [patients say], ‘Instead of maybe going out shopping, now I go to the casino,’ ” therapist Crystal Aviles Del Valle told WBUR News.
The patients are often using gambling as a coping mechanism, and it can develop into a habit that has a negative impact on their financial and emotional well-being.
Gambling addiction is not recreationally betting, and according to Del Valle it requires over a year of problematic behavior.
The Massachusetts state government has not released any data on gambling trends.
At MGM Springfield, the casino has a program called GameSense to prevent problem gambling. MGM employees help patrons understand the rules and odds of the games they play in an attempt to educate gamblers.
According to the WBUR News report, the GameSense area is difficult to reach and much less popular than other areas of the casino.
Some in the Springfield area are wary of the repercussions that could be caused by the new casino, but the government is not taking strong action and data remains scarce.
In February, the MGM Springfield announced revenues of $21.5 million.