October 16, 2023 3 min read


Kentucky Council on Problem Gambling Concerned Over Lack of Therapists

The Kentucky Council on Problem Gambling has raised the issue of an insufficient number of gambling therapists in the state amid the legalization of sports betting

Kentucky officially embraced in-person sports bets on September 7, followed by the much-anticipated launch of an interactive platform for mobile and online wagers three weeks later, on September 28, a date that coincided with FanDuel’s launch of its mobile sports betting app

Ever since, sports betting in the Bluegrass State Sports has generated millions in state taxes while coinciding with an increase in the number of people asking for professional gambling addiction help.

While a portion of the wagered money is used to support the public pension deficit in Kentucky, among others, some will also reach the special fund that the state has dedicated to problem gaming. 

According to the Kentucky Council on Problem Gambling’s president, Dr. RonSonlyn Clark, the respective money will be actively used to serve their purpose, in the context of the new problems rising in the state. 

Limited Number of Certified Counselors 

Clark spoke about the need to adjust to the ongoing technology advent that has been adopted by the gambling industry in the past years, which now allows gambling “from the comfort of your home in your pajamas 24/7, every day of the year.”

The president also raised the problem of the limited number of certified compulsive gambling counselors. At the moment, Kentucky only hosts five such certified counselors

In the context of a potentially large influx of fresh sports bettors brought in by the legalization of the activity, it is safe to assume that there will also be an increase in the number of players seeking problem gambling support. 

Quoting statistics, Clark spoke about the fact that up to 2% of gamblers will require “some treatment”. The council’s president strengthened this idea by mentioning the rise in the number of calls to the 1-800 hotline for gamblers while anticipating an exacerbation in the future.  

Also commenting on the current systems built to assist people with problem gaming, Clark said that while “some infrastructure” is currently available, she would like to see it get stronger. 

In this context, the Kentucky Council on Problem Gambling has announced its intent to perform blitz training at the head of 2024 as a means of getting people who want to become gambling counselors the necessary.

Gambling Addiction Leads to High Rates of Suicide 

Another important issue raised by Clark regarded the high rate of suicide recorded among those affected by gambling addiction or disordered gambling. 

As explained by the therapist, “20% of people will attempt or complete suicide” once they are faced with gambling-related problems caused by financial issues, shame, secrecy, guilt, and the involvement of their families.

Clark further mentioned the “addictive quality” that goes hand in hand with gambling, mentioning substance and alcohol use as well as a variety of other types of behavioral addictions. While some of these are tied to genetics, others are triggered by people’s lifestyles, the things individuals are exposed to, or as a way of developing new coping mechanisms to escape daily problems. 

Accordingly, Clark expressed her desire to see a rehab center built to assist with recovery. Such a center would incur between $2 and  $3 million dollars in yearly costs.

The council, whose vision is to “be the focal point for problem gambling issues in the Commonwealth of Kentucky”, was set up almost three decades ago in an effort to promote prevention activities, raise awareness, and educate gamblers and individuals confronted with disorder gambling issues.

After finishing her master's in publishing and writing, Melanie began her career as an online editor for a large gaming blog and has now transitioned over towards the iGaming industry. She helps to ensure that our news pieces are written to the highest standard possible under the guidance of senior management.

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