822 on FM 97.3 WZBG. And the third Wednesday of the month, we pay a visit to the folks at the McCall Center for Behavioral Health and Help, Inc. This time, Counselor Carissa D’Amico is our guest. Carissa, good morning. Good morning, Gail. Thanks so much for having me. Glad to have you on the show. Glad you could join us. We’re going to talk about problem gambling disorder this morning with Carissa.
We’re going to talk about problem gambling disorder this morning with Carissa. Just as a way of opening things up here, Carissa, how’s gambling changed since COVID-19 and the legalization of sports betting here, which became legal about a year ago? Yeah, so exactly one year ago today, sports betting became legalized in Connecticut. And between COVID and the legalization of sports betting, we’ve seen kind of a change in the face of gambling. So over COVID-19, casino gambling decreased quite a bit. And with the legalization of sports betting, we’re seeing an increase in online betting. And this has also changed the demographic. So a wider demographic is reached, especially for women, who used to use a lot of slot machines historically.
for women who used to use a lot of slot machines historically and now they’re moving over to sports betting and online betting. So Connecticut is seen is now ranked ninth in overall sports betting even surpassing Colorado that has a much bigger population, approximately 2.2 million more people than Connecticut. Wow, that’s a lot for a small state. You know we think of gambling as Wow, that’s a lot for a small state. You know, we think of gambling as being in a casino, but let’s flesh that out. It’s much broader than that, isn’t it? Yeah, so gambling can include scratch-off tickets, bingo, raffles, even office pools, and then of course we have sports betting and gaming, And gaming, which was under the gambling umbrella but has become such a bigger issue, especially over COVID, that we’ve kind of now separated the two.
But gaming can lead to gambling later in life. And I know, especially with COVID-19, gaming has been more prevalent than before. Now, I understand as a parent, you’ve got some worry of your own of this. As a parent, you’ve got some worry of your own of this. You’ve experienced this kind of anxiety on this issue. Oh, absolutely. So in my own life, my son, over COVID-19, I would give him money for his video games to purchase these loot boxes. And I thought, hey, he can’t socialize with kids, so he can go on this game and at least socialize with some other kids.
and at least socialize with some other kids. And then as I continued with my training in gambling and my continuing education, we’re starting to see that it mimics gambling very much. The same areas of the brain are affected. It lets off the same kind of dopamine when they see what’s in these loot boxes or what they want. So it’s definitely a concern, and we are seeing that later in life it leads to other gambling issues. and we are seeing that later in life it leads to other gambling issues. Okay, so yeah, it is a kind of a leading edge of addiction. Our guest this morning is Carissa D’Amico. She’s a counselor with the McCall Center for Behavioral Health and Health, Inc.
We’re talking about problem gambling disorder. So, you know, lots of people game, but how do you know when you’ve got a problem, Carissa? Yeah, so gambling and gaming look different for everyone. and gaming look different for everyone. So I’ve seen some people who owe money to the casinos, tens of thousands of dollars to casinos. I’ve seen people get in legal trouble because of this. And then there’s other people who have just spent some extra income. Maybe they don’t want to tell their spouse, hey, I spent that extra money on scratch-offs.
Or maybe they just notice, hey, I’m spending too much money, this money could go elsewhere. Maybe they just notice, hey, I’m spending too much money. This money could go elsewhere. So it’s very different for everyone. It can – so some of the red flags to look for is needing to gamble with more money to get that same feeling of excitement. Having difficulty cutting back, seeing problems with your relationships, trying to win back win-back losses and very important is gambling to escape feelings, even feelings like boredom or stress.
You know, the interesting thing here, Carissa, is that the symptoms you’re describing here are very much a mirror image of the same kinds of addictive behaviors that trouble a lot of people. And maybe you don’t think of gambling as being something that has a lot of the same correlation, but clearly it does. something that has a lot of the same correlation, but clearly it does. So with that, what kind of tools can McCall bring to bear to help out? Yeah, so we can help anyone who thinks they have maybe a bit of a problem relationship with gambling, or maybe gambling has just started to become a bit negative. So we can help the individual who might be having a problem.
We can help the families who say, hey, I think someone has a problem and it’s affecting me We can help the families who say, hey, I think someone has a problem and it’s affecting me and my feeling. So we really serve a broad community of people. And we can provide counseling. We can just provide education so you can see if maybe you have a problem or someone has a problem. I guess this time, Carissa and D’Amico, we’re talking about problem gambling disorder. Carissa, our time grows a little bit short. I wanted to give you a chance to just sum up anything we may have left out on this topic that we can share right now and any closing thoughts and, of course, that important contact information.
If there’s someone out there who’s hearing this and thinking to themselves, oh my gosh, you’re talking about me. Yeah, so if you have a problem, don’t wait. It’s a lot more common than people think. It doesn’t need to be a secret. And so if you or a loved one would like any support, you can call McCall Renato Outpatient Service at 203-754-0322. McCall Behavioral Health Network, so mccallbhn.org, or on Facebook or Instagram at mccall.bhn. Well, I hope people will take advantage of the services that are available before problem gambling disorder just really makes more of a problem in their lives.
Carissa, we appreciate your time this morning. Thanks for being our guest, and best to you and, of course, the folks at McCall Center of Behavioral Health. Thank you, sir. Thanks so much. Thank you. course folks at McCall Center Behavioral Health. Thank you, sir. Thanks so much. Thank you. You have a great day. You as well. Take care. Carissa D’Amico, counselor with the McCall Center. Our guest this time here on FM 97.3 WZBG. And again, you can give a call to McCall Center 860-496-2100 and their new website address McCallBNH.org. That’s McCallBNH.org.
Back to the newsroom with Jeff, next.