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Gambling addiction concerns grow as mobile sports betting launches in Louisiana

Published: Jan. 28, 2022 at 9:36 PM CST
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NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - With mobile sports betting kicking off in Louisiana, people were downloading apps throughout the day even placing bets on tonight’s Pelican’s game.

“You can bet online, you can bet live, any kind of game sport,” said Gustavo Torres.

“I might take the chance, it’s kinda like playing the lotto. You don’t win if you don’t play,” said Michael Taylor.

After a long wait, Louisianans can now bet on their favorite sports teams, scores, and athletes in the palm of their hands. One of the pros of mobile betting, the convenience and accessibility is also what could lead to gambling addictions.

“We know that there are going to be probably higher numbers of people who have problems in the months ahead and certainly in probably two years. We have seen that during the pandemic more people have been looking and leaning towards alcohol use and gambling venues and ways to gamble and certainly online was one of them,” said Janet Miller, the Executive Director of the Louisiana Association of Compulsive Gambling.

The state’s Association On Compulsive Gambling says it’s an invisible addiction. They say it’s important to talk with loved ones to recognize when gambling is no longer fun or causing financial troubles.

“When people start talking like they’re gonna make money doing this. Then that could be a red flag for me if they start talking, that they control the outcomes,” said Miller.

A portion of the state’s online game winnings will target problem gamblers. Those managing all those wagers say mobile sports betting is one of the safer ways to bet.

“You can’t be anonymous, right? You can’t bet as a guest so to speak, you have to go in, put in your name, put in your info, the last four of your social, if you’ve ever been excluded in the past. It’s not going to let you play at all,” said Samir Mowad, General Manager for Harrah’s New Orleans.

It’s definitely a hobby that’s taking off. Harrah’s New Orleans says more people downloaded the Caesar’s Sportsbetting app in the first few hours in Louisiana, than the whole state of Arizona did with their launch.

“The only way we could probably have more interest is that the Saints themselves were still alive in the playoffs,” said Mowad.

Just like with wagers, advocates say you need to be wary and conscious of betting habits.

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