Gambling activities in Texas are increasing during the period of uncertainty caused by the virus outbreak and spread, the executive director of an association claims, pointing to the risk of gambling addiction increase.
Gambling Cannot Solve Financial Issues
Janet Miller, the executive director for the Louisiana Association on Compulsive Gambling said there were more calls to the association’s anonymous hotline lately related to addiction to online gambling or playing the lottery, noting that gambling is only a form of entertainment.
“…it is not meant to relieve pressure and to make money or to solve a financial issue.”Janet Miller, Executive Director, Louisiana Association on Compulsive Gambling
Contrary to that statement, 70% of the callers to the anonymous hotline of the association are seeking to solve their financial problems through gambling. And the uncertainty brought with the restrictions on businesses and jobs aimed at curbing the further spread of the coronavirus is only exacerbating the issue.
Uncertainty and Rising Stress Levels
As there are places literally closing down and some of them may never reopen, people are concerned about their jobs, paying their bills and keeping the roof under their heads. The uncertainty stemming from the ongoing health crisis raises questions about the viability of people’s careers and future in general, and increases the overall stress levels.
“When you have such a high-level stress with financial fears and concerns and you are married, that’s creating a very difficult situation.”Janet Miller, Executive Director, Louisiana Association on Compulsive Gambling
The gambling addiction concerns raised by the association executive come at a time when there is strong speculation the legalization of casinos in the state may be back on the legislators’ agenda. Las Vegas Sands chairman, billionaire Sheldon Adelson recently hired 8 high-profile lobbyists from Austin, Texas, stirring rumors about another attempt at gambling expansion in the state.
Gambling Expansion in Texas
Sheldon Adelson also increased the lobby budget to persuade legislators to pass the gambling bill during the next legislative session which starts in January. All 7 previous attempts to legalize casinos in Texas have failed but it does not discourage the casino mogul to try again as a new window of opportunity is opening due to the devastating economic impact from the virus outbreak.
Some officials argue that the legalization of casinos will help keep Texas money in the state as, currently, they flow out of it to the casinos in the neighboring states, with every one of them having at least one land-based gaming property near the Texas state line.
But the most decisive factor in the lure to legislate casinos in the Lone Star State may be the fact that Texas lawmakers are staring at a $4.6 billion deficit and would probably clutch at every straw to fill the state coffers and lower that amount and casinos provide a source of funding that may be too expensive to ignore.