New Jersey's decision to allow online gambling is an alarming development for compulsive bettors, says Arnie Wexler, a certified compulsive-gambling counselor.
"If you’re an addicted gambler or have the possibility of becoming an addicted gambler, you very easily in the middle of the night . . . get an urge, a flash, a feeling, a thought, and then you're in action," Wexler told "The Steve Malzberg Show" on Newsmax TV.
"You don't have to put gasoline in your car, you don't have to drive to a casino or a racetrack, you don't have to go anyplace,” he said Monday. “You just get up, and it could be . . . in your birthday suit."
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Online gambling in New Jersey is set to launch in November, making the state the third state to approve of it, after Nevada and Delaware.
Gov. Chris Christie signed the bill in February after pressuring the legislature to make changes he wanted. The changes included setting a 10-year trial period for online betting, and raising the taxes on the Atlantic City casinos’ online winnings to 15 percent, from 10 percent.
Online gaming is expected to bring about the largest expansion of legalized gambling in New Jersey since the first casino began operating in Atlantic City in 1978.
Wexler, former executive director of the Council on Compulsive Gambling of New Jersey, is concerned that young people are susceptible.
"I don't really know how they're going to control the underage gamblers . . . Those are the people that really know the computer inside out. On my 888-LAST-BET hotline . . . one-third of all the calls we've gotten probably in the last five years are from kids, or the parents of the kids between ages 12 and 25, who think they're professional poker players," Wexler said.
"The fact is . . . addicted gamblers are going to destroy their lives and everybody else they come in contact with. "
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