Letter: Expanding gambling will increase addiction

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A backroom gambling deal surfaced as the Legislature neared the deadline.

Betting on ALL Illinois college sports teams was included in SB 521, which was amended four times in the House on May 31.

While supporters said this was a “pilot” program, gambling on Illinois college sports betting would become permanent and expand later to include mobile and in-game bets.

Threats against student athletes are real, especially when people are gambling on college teams. The 2019 gambling bill banned bets on Illinois college sports to protect college players, many of whom are under the age of 21.

Relentless sports betting commercials, gambling apps, pop-up ads and cell phone nudges entice people to place bets 24/7. Sports betting should not be expanded.

SB 521 also allowed nationally certified fraternal and veterans organizations to have video gambling without a liquor license, even if located in a county or municipality that bans video gambling. Chicago and Cook County were excluded.

The House passed SB 521 at 1:19 a.m. on June 1 and sent the bill to the Senate. The Senate did not vote on these changes, but could do so when the session resumes.

Internet Instant Lottery (SB 2342) was amended in the Senate on May 30, but the deadline for the Senate to vote on the bill was extended to June 15.

Scratch-off tickets account for 2/3 of Lottery sales. Putting instant tickets on the internet is like playing games on phones, with a “Play Again” button that pops up. The lottery simplified online registration during the pandemic, added Apple and Google Pay, and used web-push notifications/nudges on phones to lure gamblers. Anyone 18 and older could “scratch” tickets for hours and lose a great deal of money.

Expanding gambling will increase addiction, underage gambling and harm.

Anita Bedell, executive director of Illinois Church Action on Alcohol and Addiction Problems

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June 13, 2021 at 09:58PM

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