As Jake’s 58 prepares a $200 million expansion with double the slot machines, state gambling officials came to the Islandia casino Thursday to publicize programs to help problem gamblers.
Experts said gambling addiction has increased in recent years in New York, coinciding with the opening of Jake’s 58 in 2017 and last year’s legalization of mobile sports betting in New York. In addition, state officials plan to license three new upstate land-based casinos by the end of the year, which could include one on Long Island.
While they promote gambling as an engine of economic development, state officials offer a variety of programs to combat addiction, including a toll-free 24-hour hotline, called HOPEline, to connect problem gamblers with advice.
The machines at Jake’s 58 carry HOPEline phone number tags, Suffolk County Regional Off-Track Betting Corp. Chief Executive Officer Phil Boyle said, adding the casino also participates in the state’s “self-exclusion” program. which allows gamblers to voluntarily ban themselves from gambling establishments across the state. Participant names and photos are distributed to all state casinos; violators could be arrested and lose their winnings. Forms are available on the Jake’s 58 website, jakes58.com/responsible-gaming/.
We care about all of our customers and if there are people who are struggling with gambling addiction, we want to help them get the help they need, Boyle said in an interview.
The self-exclusion program is administered by the State Gaming Commission, which is funded by Jake’s and other New York casinos, a commission spokesman said.
Critics say state programs are helpful but insufficient.
Jeffrey Reynolds, president of the Family & Children Association of Garden City, which provides a range of counseling services, said the self-exclusion programs and hotlines are “a step in the right direction,” but the state needs to fund more prevention programs and promote them as much as they promote gambling opportunities.
“We need to move beyond putting stickers on slot machines, Reynolds said. “The reality is that most young men who are falling prey to mobile sports betting aren’t calling hotlines.
Suffolk OTB in January announced plans to double Jake’s 58 video lottery terminals from 1,000 to 2,000 as part of expansion plans that include new conference rooms, sports bars and a parking garage. The new machines should be ready by early 2025.
Jake’s 58 brought in $1.8 billion in gross gaming revenue since Jan. 1, or $353.3 million monthly through May 31, according to the state’s online gambling records.
Appearing at Jake’s Thursday were members of New York’s Responsible Play Partnership, including leaders of the State Gaming Commission, the New York Council on Problem Gambling and the Office of Addiction Services and Supports, or OASAS.
HOPEline calls are routed to the Problem Gambling Resource Center, a Uniondale-based counseling program. The resource center is funded by OASAS, which receives $6 million each fiscal year from mobile sports gambling revenue.
Uniondale team leader Pamela Brenner-Davis said her office has seen a “steady” increase in calls since the program was set up in 2019. Most clients are between the ages of 18 and 30 years old, but one was 15, he claimed.
Jake’s 58 clients must be 18 or older; the minimum age for sports betting is 21 years old.
Long Island traditionally has one of the highest call volumes in New York,” Brenner-Davis said.
[Gambling sites bring]in a lot of revenue for the state, but also cause a lot of trouble for the people.
HOW TO GET HELP
Here are the phone/text numbers and websites for information on gambling addiction counseling services:
- New York State HOPE Line: 877-846-7369 or text 467369
- Problem Gambling Resource Center (Uniondale office): 516-226-8342
- New York State Office of Problem Gambling Services: oasas.ny.gov/gambling/
- Gamblers Anonymous, Long Island Region: 855-222-5542
SOURCES: New York State Gaming Commission, New York State Office of Addiction Services and Supports, Problem Gambling Resource Center
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