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MN Alliance on Problem Gambling Urges Consumer Protections to Sports Gambling Bill

ROSEVILLE, MINN. (May 28, 2024) — The Minnesota Alliance on Problem Gambling (MNAPG), a gambling-neutral organization, says the failure to legalize sports gambling in Minnesota is an important opportunity for lawmakers to re-engineer any future bill to include a framework that includes important consumer protections. MNAPG stresses that it will be critical to ensure that if and when Minnesota legalizes sports betting, there are resources in place to support the probable spike in problem gambling.

“Any future sports gambling bill must include language that provides the funding for increased treatment resources, education, research and safeguards to make Minnesota a safer, more supportive community that treats problem gambling as a treatable and preventable public health issue,” says Susan Sheridan Tucker, Executive Director of MNAPG.

MNAPG says several states that have legalized sports betting failed to include proper consumer protections and prevention resources, while all states that legalized sports betting have seen significant spikes in calls to problem gambling helplines as a result. These are key reminders for Minnesota to take a smart approach for future legalization efforts, says Sheridan Tucker.

MNAPG says a key component of any future sports gambling bill should include funding for more treatment providers and family services, and to provide prevention tools to help Minnesotans understand problem gambling, especially for youth. MNAPG says there also need to be safeguards in place to allow players to opt out from online or in-app games that are designed to keep players gambling. 

MNAPG says any future bill should also include important consumer protections such as specific curbs to limit advertising to people under 21. Finally, MNAPG recommends the state ban prop betting — side bets not related to the outcome of a game — on college games to prevent gamblers from making excessive bets and to protect student athletes from harassment and potential game integrity issues. 

“The truth remains that, legal or not, many Minnesotans are going to participate in sports gambling, likely through off-shore, unregulated sites,” says Sheridan Tucker. “This reality means it’s more important than ever for people who gamble and their loved ones to know there are resources for treatment, which is free in Minnesota.” 

Problem gambling impacts millions of people in the United States and the addiction can have serious consequences for individuals, families and cultural communities — including bankruptcy, dissolved relationships, domestic violence, homelessness, money crimes and suicide. In Minnesota 250,000 adults have reported problematic gambling along with 6,000 high schoolers.

Here are some common signs that might indicate a gambling addiction:
* Increased frequency of gambling activity.
* Gambling for significantly longer periods of time than originally planned.
* Boasting about wins, but never talking about losses.
* Lying about how money is spent.
* Turning to other excesses to relieve gambling stress (alcohol, sleep, video games, etc.) 

Those seeking help should call the Minnesota Gambling Helpline at1-800-333-4673.