More in Maryland seek help for gambling problems

MGM National Harbor became Maryland’s sixth casino on Dec. 8, 2016; the state’s five others opened between 2010 and 2014.

It has been one year since MGM opened, and gambling in the state is bringing in millions each month — $130.5 million just in November.

While the state’s casinos have had a huge economic impact, it’s not known yet what the opening of MGM National Harbor has meant for problem gambling.

It has opened, however, in the middle of an influx of people seeking help for problem gambling in the state.

The state Department of Health and Mental Hygiene conducted a study before the first Maryland casino opened in 2010, and published it in 2011. They found that nearly 90 percent of Marylanders had gambled, and that 3.4 percent were either pathological gamblers or problem gamblers.

The department is in the final stages of a new study, which they expect to release early in 2018, that will provide a picture of problem gambling in the state after more than seven years of casino gaming.

The Maryland Center for Excellence on Problem Gambling, run by the University of Maryland School of Medicine, reported that contacts with the helpline — calls, texts and tweets — increased by 8 percent in fiscal 2016 over the previous year, and by 65 percent since fiscal 2013. They added that 143 people were put in treatment by providers on their list in fiscal 2016 — a fivefold increase over the previous fiscal year.

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