Addiction advocates worry about sports betting ahead of Super Bowl

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EDISON -

This year’s Super Bowl will be the first one since New Jersey allowed legalized sports betting.

Nicholas Amato, with the Genova Burns Casino and Gaming Industry Group, says that he expects New Jersey residents to wager millions of dollars on Sunday’s game.

“To say that we’re going to hit $200 million, I don’t think that’s unrealistic,” Amato says, adding that Las Vegas took in around $150 million last year.

“There’s no question in my mind that we will surpass Las Vegas,” he says.

But with so much money at stake, some addiction advocates say that they are worried about New Jerseyans with gambling problems and that internet sports betting has made things somewhat worse.

"I could easily be sitting here right now and put my hand down here if I had it and maybe glance down a little bit and place a bet [on my phone],” says Neva Pryor, executive director the Council on Compulsive Gambling New Jersey.

Pryor says that New Jersey has a hotline for people seeking help with gambling addiction – 800-Gambler. She says that since the legalization of sports betting in the state, it’s not new gamblers that are coming forward.

"These are people who already had a problem with gambling and we're doing sports betting, but now the 800-Gambler number is out there and sports betting is legal. They feel comfortable enough to give us a call,” Pryor says.

Pryor says that with the upcoming Super Bowl, she worries the new gamblers may be enticed. She encourages them to think twice before placing a bet.

“Make sure it’s not the mortgage, it’s not the food and it’s not taking away from your children,” she says.

Signs that someone may have a gambling addiction include irritability, lying and missing money, among other indicators.

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