As States Chase Sports Betting Gold, Addicts Left in the Cold

On the day Jeff Wasserman's decades-long gambling addiction came to a head, the Delaware lawyer found himself parked outside a convenience store with three agonizing options: end his life, flee the country or come clean and get help.

"I raised the white flag in my own mind," Wasserman, 63, said of the day he decided to seek help for a problem that had secretly consumed hundreds of thousands of dollars, his retirement savings and his career. "I knew that it was D-day."

Wasserman is now more than three years into his recovery, which started with a phone call to Delaware's anti-gambling addiction program.

It is one of a growing number of publicly-funded programs that face a financial crunch as U.S. states jump at the chance to collect revenue through legal sports betting, while largely ignoring the need to spend more tackling gambling addiction.

Of the eight U.S. states that legalized full-scale sports betting, only three have increased funding for problem gambling services. And the contributions have been small, according to state officials and program directors.

None of those states, or the additional 15 and the District of Columbia that introduced bills in 2018 to legalize sports betting, have followed the National Council on Problem Gambling (NCPG) recommendation to dedicate 1 percent of legal sports betting revenue to problem gambling services.

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