Online gambling in Michigan is slated to begin on January 22nd, and many fear it will only compound gambling addiction across the state.
Patrick McGinn, a licensed psychologist and CEO of the Harbor Hall Center in Petoskey, says it’s similar to alcohol or drug addiction. “The behaviors that appear in people who have trouble gambling almost mirror what you see in other addiction disorders,” he said. “It works on the same reward centers and you get elevated levels of dopamine, which are the feel-good chemicals.”
He says that the availability of betting will be too convenient for some to resist. “We’ll see more gambling addiction. It’s getting too easy. It will be too easy to get involved with. It’ll be too easy to check out and put in your paycheck when doing things online. “
McGinn believes people will see the effects soon. “You might see people who like the women’s resource center or the pantry to make ends meet or the Salvation Army to pay their bills,” he said. “I think we’ll see the effects first.”
His best advice is that friends and families watch out for addicts. Those struggling with gambling addiction should call the Michigan Problem Gambling Helpline at 1-800-270-7117.