HEADLINES

Sen. Hwang: “The Societal Cost and Addiction Are the True Risks of Gambling Expansion”

HARTFORD, CT - The State Senate passed HB 6451 today in a 28-6 vote and now heads to Governor Lamont’s desk. With the Governor’s signature it will go before the federal Bureau of Indian Affairs for final approval. Senator Tony Hwang (R-28) offers the following statement after his no vote on the measure:

“Following a year of incredible challenges, this is exactly the wrong time to put a virtual casino in every home in the state. According to gambling addiction professionals, the rate of problem gambling disorders, and the resulting social and personal financial problems, increases for online players, especially for those experiencing anxiety, isolation and depression. Already, we would point out, internet gambling addiction is the fastest growing addiction among American children, high schoolers and college students because of real-time betting access on cell phones and computers.

“Even in the best and most stable of times, introducing a way for citizens to gamble from anywhere at any hour of the day poses significant addiction risks. The introduction of online and sports gambling are dramatic public policy changes, deserving of a proper and transparent legislative process that should include all impacted shareholders. More importantly, there must be careful consideration for the potentially devastating societal impact of expanding gambling, particularly for existing gambling addicts and future ones after being exposed to increased access and marketing influences.”

“As it stands, this agreement makes a meager $500,000 additional investment into already insufficiently funded programs to support people battling gambling addiction. When we are enabling every resident to carry their own casino on their person around the clock, a concerted and substantial effort must be made to handle the ramifications that this will cause when our residents, for whatever reason, are at their most vulnerable.

“What is most disappointing is the legislature’s failure to conduct the statutorily required study of the economic and societal costs of gambling. These studies should be completed at least once every ten years and Connecticut has embarrassingly not produced one since 2008.” 

“If the state refuses to put funding toward addiction services, at the very least we should complete the mandated societal impact study to better understand the results and impacts of such expanded policies.”

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