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2 new gambling support and wellness centers open on Long Island

Long Island's Family and Children's Association opens gambling support centers
Long Island's Family and Children's Association opens gambling support centers 02:03

HICKSVILLE, N.Y. -- Two new gambling support and wellness centers opened their doors on Long Island on Tuesday.

One is in Hicksville, the other in Hempstead.

Records will be shattered this Super Bowl weekend when it comes to sports betting. Approximately 68 million Americans -- about 1 in 4 -- will wager on Super Bowl LVIII, a 35% increase compared to last year, according to projections by the American Gaming Association.

Gaming experts say part of the steady increase in sports betting is due to online gambling, using your phone to access apps, but as accessibility increases, so do unhealthy gambling issues.

"This is the latest public health challenge for our young people," FCA President and CEO said Jeffrey L. Reynolds, president and CEO of Long Island's Family and Children's Association (FCA).

Reynolds says the centers' goal is to help not only Long Islanders but those throughout the Tri-State Area with identifying what problem gambling looks like and give individuals a path to recovery.  

"Some of the signs and symptoms we look for is how frequently you're gambling, how often you're gambling and the amount of money that you're gambling, and generally, if you see the amount of money that you're wagering increase over time," he said.  

The National Council on Problem Gambling estimates 2 million adults in the United States meet the criteria for severe gambling issues, while 4-6 million have mild-to-moderate gambling problems.

"Problem gambling sometimes includes family strife. It sometimes includes financial ruin. It sometimes includes depression, anxiety," Reynolds said.

"We have available resources during critical times like the Super Bowl ... We don't tell them what to do, but we work collaboratively within their counseling setting to say OK, what are your goals related to problem gambling or other areas of their life?" said Nicolle Vasselman, assistant vice president of clinical services for the FCA.

The FCA says it is focusing on community outreach, partnering with local casinos to raise awareness about resources, and adds the center will not turn away anyone looking for help.

The nonprofit also says with the increase in online sports betting, gambling has reached newer, younger audiences, with many unaware of the larger consequences of problem gambling.

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