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Letters to the Editor

Online sports betting creates new gamblers

Internet sports gambling is a massive expansion of gambling. 

Access to sporting events worldwide 24 hours a day makes gambling just a click away, and fuels gambling addiction. Internet sports gambling appeals to young people, who could place bets over their phones or computers, with no one knowing.  

Sports gambling advertising is very aggressive. A recent study found that Twitter users under the age of 18 who follow popular sports accounts are being “bombarded” with gambling ads. Studies indicate that youths who view these ads are more likely to gamble.

Nearly 10 percent of high school students are gambling online, and more than 40 percent are gambling in any form, according to a Science Daily study.

In 2016, a survey by the NCAA found 24 percent of male student athletes and nearly 5 percent of current NCAA women wagered on sports in the past year. Millennials (those 25-34 years of age) were responsible for the biggest increase in online gambling last year. Online sports betting will create a new generation of problem gamblers.  

Legalizing sports gambling will not eliminate illegal gambling nor prevent underage gambling. Illinois legislators were cautioned not to tax sports gambling too high, so the state will get a small “cut” of the losses and shoulder all the costs of regulation, criminal justice and social costs.  

In New Jersey, which led the way for sports gambling, former Gov. Chris Christie did not consider sports gambling to be a game changer, and his successor is still trying to raise income and sales tax. Gambling interests would be the big winners in this scheme and could make a fortune luring people to gamble.

Call your legislators and tell them, no more gambling!

Note to readers: Anita Bedell is executive director of the Illinois Church Action on Alcohol and Addiction Problems based in Springfield.

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