Sports gambling legalization may negatively impact patients with addiction

The Supreme Court recently struck down a federal law banning gambling on sporting events, allowing Americans from any state to bet on sports.

Legalizing sports betting may have grave consequences for individuals with gambling addiction.

To uncover how the new rule will impact patients with addiction tendencies and how primary care physicians can address subsequent issues, Healio Internal Medicine spoke with Mark A. Celio, PhD, assistant professor at the Center for Alcohol and Addiction Studies at Brown University School of Public Health. – by Alaina Tedesco

Question: What impact will this ruling have?

Answer: The most likely direct impact would be easier access to sports gambling. People who previously wanted to bet on sports could likely find ways to do so, but this will make it easier for people to access sports gambling in states that choose to act on this ruling.

The Supreme Court recently struck down a federal law banning gambling on sporting events, allowing Americans from any state to bet on sports.
Photo credit: Adobe Stock

Q: What are the signs of a gambling addiction?

A: Some signs include preoccupation with gambling, loss of control over how much one gambles (ie, either time or money) and the extent to which people hide gambling (ie, activity or monetary losses) from significant others. These characteristics can impact relationships and one’s ability to follow through on responsibilities and that is when gambling becomes problematic.

Q: What are the consequences, both to health and overall well-being?

A: Gambling can impact health in many ways. For example, gambling can directly or indirectly increase stress. It could be financial stress or it could be interpersonal in nature. Either way, long-term exposure to stress has very real consequences for physical and mental health.

Ironically, problem gamblers may believe that gambling provides relief from stress. These people can easily find themselves stuck in a cyclical pattern where their gambling produces stress that they then try to alleviate with more gambling, only to be left with more stress.

Q: What can primary care physicians do to assist these patients?

A: The key is to ask all patients questions about gambling using an empirically-based brief questionnaire. There are screening measures as short as three items that can accurately identify when more follow-up questions about gambling are warranted. If you have your patients fill out a general health questionnaire, simply add these items. For those who screen positive, ask additional questions and have resources available.

Q: What services are available to assist in addressing gambling addiction?

A: The National Council on Problem Gambling provides resources for screening, as well as services that are available in each state: https://www.ncpgambling.org/

Disclosure: Celio reports no relevant financial disclosures.

The Supreme Court recently struck down a federal law banning gambling on sporting events, allowing Americans from any state to bet on sports.

Legalizing sports betting may have grave consequences for individuals with gambling addiction.

To uncover how the new rule will impact patients with addiction tendencies and how primary care physicians can address subsequent issues, Healio Internal Medicine spoke with Mark A. Celio, PhD, assistant professor at the Center for Alcohol and Addiction Studies at Brown University School of Public Health. – by Alaina Tedesco

Question: What impact will this ruling have?

Answer: The most likely direct impact would be easier access to sports gambling. People who previously wanted to bet on sports could likely find ways to do so, but this will make it easier for people to access sports gambling in states that choose to act on this ruling.

The Supreme Court recently struck down a federal law banning gambling on sporting events, allowing Americans from any state to bet on sports.
Photo credit: Adobe Stock

Q: What are the signs of a gambling addiction?

A: Some signs include preoccupation with gambling, loss of control over how much one gambles (ie, either time or money) and the extent to which people hide gambling (ie, activity or monetary losses) from significant others. These characteristics can impact relationships and one’s ability to follow through on responsibilities and that is when gambling becomes problematic.

Q: What are the consequences, both to health and overall well-being?

A: Gambling can impact health in many ways. For example, gambling can directly or indirectly increase stress. It could be financial stress or it could be interpersonal in nature. Either way, long-term exposure to stress has very real consequences for physical and mental health.

Ironically, problem gamblers may believe that gambling provides relief from stress. These people can easily find themselves stuck in a cyclical pattern where their gambling produces stress that they then try to alleviate with more gambling, only to be left with more stress.

Q: What can primary care physicians do to assist these patients?

A: The key is to ask all patients questions about gambling using an empirically-based brief questionnaire. There are screening measures as short as three items that can accurately identify when more follow-up questions about gambling are warranted. If you have your patients fill out a general health questionnaire, simply add these items. For those who screen positive, ask additional questions and have resources available.

Q: What services are available to assist in addressing gambling addiction?

A: The National Council on Problem Gambling provides resources for screening, as well as services that are available in each state: https://www.ncpgambling.org/

Disclosure: Celio reports no relevant financial disclosures.