Casino Watch Focus previously reported that a new Oklahoma casino, which is located on the boarder of Oklahoma and Missouri, would be aggressively targeting the Joplin market for employees and would be gamblers. Now, The Joplin Globe interviewed local gambling experts to determine the impact of the new casino and local experts are explaining that the proximity of the casino is causing an increase in problem gambling:
There are a number of casinos or gambling locations within a 30-mile radius of Joplin. [Mark McDonald, a compulsive-gambling counselor at Ozark Center] says there’s been an increase in problem gambling in the area because of easy access to casinos.
“It used to be the closest place people had to go to was in Kansas City on the river boats,” he said. “The availability of the casinos is going to cause its own criminal activity and damage to the community.”
The Globe goes on to report that those who suffer from gambling problems experience a “high” similar to drugs and families often suffer the consequences:
Problem gambling doesn’t discriminate. McDonald says it crosses all social and racial lines. What problem gamblers have in common is the “high” they get from gambling. McDonald says it’s similar to the high an alcoholic or drug addict gets.
Nora Bock, clinical director for the Division of Alcohol and Drug Abuse at the Missouri Department of Mental Health, says gambling becomes a problem when a person begins to experience “adverse consequences” as a direct result of gambling.
“Because of their preoccupation with gambling, they start to let other aspects of their lives suffer, like family, friends, career, school,” Bock said. “These things are ‘replaced’ by the person’s gambling.”