Most Nebraskans resist addiction to legalized gambling

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Gambling such as keno is growing, and the Nebraska Lottery is adding a new game, but problem gambling is a relatively small problem in the Cornhusker State, at least according to the benchmarks used by the personal website WalletHub.

Nebraska is the second best state when it comes to gambling addiction problems, but not so neighboring states South Dakota, which is the second worse, Colorado 15th, Wyoming 22, Iowa 24 and Kansas 36.

Americans lose about $100 billion through gambling, and while most of us can buy a scratch ticket or visit a casino occasionally without harm, about 2 percent of us have a real problem.

In those people, gambling can stimulate the brain’s reward system much like drugs do to an addict.

The National Council on Problem Gambling says the addiction costs an estimated $6 billion per year, and a typical male gambling addict accumulates a debt of between $55,000 and $90,000, while a female averages $15,000. Most cannot afford to pay back what they owe, and amass even more debt, suffering health issues, lose jobs and relationships and perhaps even commit crimes.

Perhaps Nebraska’s gambling problems are relatively low because we were late to the table — we had no state-run lottery until 1993.

The only legal casinos are on Native American reservations in Niobrara, Walthill and Winnebago.

We’re 22nd in casinos per capita, 38th in gaming machines and lottery sales, 43 in gambling-related arrests and 23rd in legality of daily fantasy sports.

Gambling addiction may not be as serious a problem in Nebraska as other states, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t just as devastating to those who are affected.

It may be an attractive activity as governments look at ways to capture revenue from as many sources as possible, but the costs to society far outweigh the benefits.

You can read the full report here: http://bit.ly/2pi11Wh

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