Sports gambling decision has local behavioral health experts concerned

The U.S. Supreme Court is paving the way for sports betting to take place around the country.

The court overturned a decision made by the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that aimed to stop the spread of sports betting.

The power to legalize sports betting is now in the hands of the states themselves.

Clinical therapist Eddie Luker said there are a variety of problems with this ruling.

“It’s really going to open up the floodgates now,” Luker said. “It has ramifications for every state.”

Even though the state of Wisconsin has not supported any sports gambling in the past, Luker said now there is no law to prevent it.

“The more accessible gambling is, the higher rates of problem gambling we see,” he said.

Luker said sports gambling is popular among college students.

“Almost two-thirds of all college students have placed some type of sports bet during their college years,” he said.

He said casino gambling is already a problem in this community for people 65 and older.

“There are casinos that send birthday cards to senior citizens and there are casinos that send those little buses out to pick up groups of people at churches,” Luker said.

According to The Associated Press, gambling market researcher David Katz said the market for legal sports betting could be more than $57 billion nationwide.

Some communities are concerned that sports betting could spread to smaller sports leagues.

But, Loggers Entertainment director Chris Callaway said he doesn’t believe it will go that far.

“You would have to have some sort of financial backing to put up some sports book of some sort,” Callaway said.

He said the league also has to be popular.

“There has to be the interest there for people to want to do it,” Callaway said.

Luker said, without government regulation, there’s nothing to prevent that from happening.

“What’s to stop it?” Luker said. “If you think of how things spread out at the Division 1 level than why not take it to the next level.”

He said the community needs to be aware of what the future could hold.

“I’m not against gambling, but I think people need to be educated,” Luker said.