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Addiction concerns due to mobile sports betting


OPELOUSAS, La — Mobile sportsbook goes live Friday morning at 8am.

Last year, voters in 55 of the state’s 64 municipalities approved the change, which will make bettors available 24/7 on approved platforms. However, some express concerns about possible negative effects.

“You know, I don’t believe in just trying anything, you know what I mean?” said Ronald Butte, a resident of Opelousas.

“You might actually have too much access to something,” said Keith Aggison, another Opelousas resident. “I think you must have some kind of control over it.”

KATC spoke to Craig Laseur, clinical program director at the Hero Program of New Beginnings Recovery Center, who said these are valid points. In his 22 years of experience, he told us that addiction, in any form, often starts the same way.

“When we look at addiction and the obvious ease of access, it becomes problematic, but we also look at addiction as separation,” Laseur said. “So if I’m able to separate the behavior, isolate it and still engage with it, and it’s more available to me, obviously that can be problematic.”

Laseur said that easy access could come with a higher cost, especially for a group.

“The younger age groups can also engage and get used to it at an earlier age, which I think would be a concern,” Laseur said.

Some of the most popular mobile sports betting platforms are Draft Kings and FanDuel. A FanDuel representative told KATC that their platform has an algorithm that notifies users when they’ve been online for an extended period of time — and even allows setting time limits within the app.

At the end of the day, Laseur says it is up to the individual and their loved ones to monitor potential signs of addiction and recognize when there is a problem, and mentioning this innovation seems to be a sign of the times and a means to stay up to date.

“Because gambling is done remotely over a phone, will gambling get more people addicted? I mean, I don’t know the answer to that,” Laseur said. “But I know how easy access will take those who probably already have it and make it — it has the potential to make it worse.”

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