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Reported surge of people calling gambling hotline to get help with addiction

Reported surge of people calling gambling hotline to get help with adiction
Reported surge of people calling gambling hotline to get help with adiction 02:17

HOLLYWOOD - State-certified counselors see surges of people calling a gambling hotline for help managing addictions this holiday season, according to the executive director of the Florida Council on Compulsive Gambling.

Critics see casino gaming options expanded while state spending to combat addiction lags.

"It's not good at all," Bob Jones, who lives near the Hard Rock Casino in Hollywood said. 

The Hard Rock added craps, roulette and sports betting two weeks ago thanks to a Gaming Compact signed by Governor Ron DeSantis in 2021. 

The State Council on Compulsive Gambling believes the expansion of betting increases the odds of addiction.  One in three Florida gamblers played craps or roulette before legal options opened, according to a National Council on Problem Gambling Survey. 

Of 42 states with publicly funded problem gambling services, none had more calls for help than Florida last year, according to the Council on Compulsive Gambling. In March, the council's executive director called out the state over its dollar-per-capita spending to combat the problem.

"The average across the United States is about 40 cents per capita," she said in March. "Florida's per capita public fund allocation is six cents."

That does not include what tribes contribute. The owners of Hard Rock Casino in Hollywood spend at least $250,000 a year on addiction prevention.

"We do have programs that we've developed, some that we've developed with our funding from the Seminoles," Kruse said to state leaders in March. 

Hardly everyone puts an onus on the casino or state.

"The addiction depends on the person and the person who doesn't have control is addicted to gambling," Emiliano Sanchez said in Spanish. "I put down a certain amount of money and then I go home."

During the Hard Rock's gaming expansion celebration, Seminole Gaming CEO Jim Allen said the legislature, governor and courts support this operation along with the tax dollars and jobs it creates.

If you need help or know someone who needs help, please call 888-ADMIT-IT -- The Florida Council on Compulsive Gambling.

"That's something that's very important, frankly, not just here in Florida but throughout the United States," Allen said on December 7th.  "It is a major issue in this country and the state of Florida has stepped up with the tribe to correct that."

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