The New York State Gaming Commission has launched a new training for lottery retailers to reinforce responsible gaming and how to prevent underage play.
Music is what got Steven Delaney through some of his darkest moments — his gambling addiction.
“If I didn’t enter into some type of recovery program and really try to change that, I was going to lose my family,” Delaney said. “I was going to lose my life as I knew it.”
His hobbies and family took a beat seat to sports betting.
“I kept playing more,” he said. “It became a cycle of realizing there was a problem and trying to quit and not understanding why I couldn’t stop even when I would have long losing streaks.”
Whether it’s daily fantasy sports or scratch-offs, Delaney has seen the toll it takes on people of all ages.
“It’s important for all the retailers to know how to handle a situation,” Ayaaz Yousef said. “If it ever comes, one where you see somebody being responsible for gambling.”
Yousef is one of the owners of AA Petroleum. He and his staff are all participating in the online training.
“If anybody looks under 50 years old or if they don’t have gray hair, you have to,” Yousef said.
Managers and clerks review spotting fake IDs, how to engage customers who aren’t used to showing ID and also what to do if they suspect risky play.
Retailers can print discreet messages with the NYS HOPEline with a QR code that provides players with 24-hour access to problem gambling resources.
“If you feel like the guy who spent $7,800, you know, he could print out this ticket and say, ‘hey, you know, I think you should take a look at this,’” Yousef said.
But it goes past the allure of the lottery. With online and retail sports betting legal in more than 30 states, experts are seeing a troubling trend amongst teens.
According to the National Council on Problem Gambling, between 60% and 80% of high school students report having gambled for money in the past year. Of those, 4% to 6% of high school students suffer from a gambling addiction.
“If you can intervene early on in teenagers’ or young adult’s life before it becomes a long-term habit, before they say have a family, you may be able to step in and help them,” Delaney said.