Do No Harm: Part 6

I submitted the following to the Trib as an Op-Ed:

I self-diagnose as a Person with a Gambler Disorder in retrospect as a 15- year-old. I am now 68. I became a White Sox fan before that at the age of seven during the 1959 World Series. I still am a White Sox fan though my choice would be to watch the Go-Go Sox type of baseball. I accept that I will probably never see a season of 2-hour games full of complete game pitching. I accept that I can watch a baseball game without making a bet on the outcome game or the plethora of in-game bets available during a game. As a fan of the Sox whether they are winning or not it was fun watching the present team develop to a contending team that is fun to watch. That being said it was not a difficult decision to stop watching them play because of their airing of manipulative ads, 50/50 raffles, and use of gambling odds on their pre and post shows.
I am not only a Person with a Gambling Disorder I work in the treatment arena offering services to People with a Gambling Disorder and speak on the topic of Gambling Disorder to anyone who wants to learn more about the disorder. I have lived with the devastation of the disorder and have seen the devastation others have experienced. The saddest part of the systemic damage done by the disorder is the damage done to families, friends, and society. That is not to diminish what I and others have experienced as individuals due to the disorder or to take responsibility away from us for our actions. My belief is that we are dealing with a public policy disorder along with an individual disorder. As a society we have not given much thought, dollars, research to the study of the effects of gambling, legal or not, on our fellow citizens.
Through the years of gambling proliferation/expansion in Illinois I have not been able to find any study of the effects on that expansion on individuals, families, or society at large. I am not sure there has been a study of the economic impact of that expansion except for projections that tend to be wildly divergent. I can only find projections that were not accurate or do not seem to be based on individual hopes. Two examples are the recent expansion and the expansion in 2009. In a Chicago Tribune article on May, 23, 2020, written by Munks and Petrella, on the passage of legislation to restructure taxes on a proposed Chicago casino Legislators and the Governor give wildly convergent projections of revenues from the passage of the bill. Rep Bob Rita (500 million) and Sen Bill Cunningham (200 Million) gave their guesses and the Governor spoke “of hundreds of millions.”
The above is based on future projections. From a ProPublica Illinois article on June, 4, 2019 on gambling in Illinois the projections from the 2009 gambling were $300 million in losses a year. That projection took ten years to come to
fruition. Not a big deal as a math problem if the State did not borrow $10 Billion dollars over the years based on that projection.
Of the $6.8 million that the State is putting towards treatment/public relations of Gambling Disorder I believe over $1 million is targeted towards a study/survey of prevalence in our citizens. I hope it explores the effects on individuals, their families and our society.
$6.8 million is an increase of about $6 million from previous years. There is not a lot of research on prevalence rates and they too are widely divergent. The range that seems pretty consistent is that People with a Gambling Disorder are 1%-3% of the general population with another 3%-5% of the general population at-risk to develop a disorder. Illinois has about 12 million people. If we use the low end of prevalence there are about 120,000 People with a Gambling Disorder in our state. Another number that is commonly used that each Person with a Gambling Disorder has an effect on average 8 others. With $5,527,000,000 lost in Illinois in 2019 that means there is .00129% put back to help those suffering individuals and families.
The reason I started with my White Sox story is that I want to get back to watching a beautiful game without State sanctioned gambling being used by the White Sox (along with every professional team) to enhance their profits. I do not want anyone else’s two-month old and their mother be left alone because their father relapsed on a sports bet, a lottery ticket, a video game, a game on their phone, fantasy sports, 50/50 raffles… I hope that both, the State and corporations, and gamblers become more respectful of the systemic damage caused by their actions.

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