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Massachusetts Preparing For Problem Gambling Spike

Every state goes through several stages when preparing for their first venture into casino gambling. In Massachusetts, lawmakers passed gambling expansion legislation earlier this year, and now regulators are scrambling to prepare for a possible increase in problem gambling.

Regulators have started to wrap their minds around how to help curb the problem gambling that is almost assured to come from the increase in legal gaming options. Lawmakers have set aside a large portion of money to help the regulators with their cause.

"The bottom line is that it is very good that the Legislature gave us a big mandate to take this on head-on," said Stephen Crosby, Chairman of the Massachusetts Gaming Commission, "and they gave us the resources to do it."

Crosby welcomed the challenge of curbing problem gambling, and he believes that the Commission is the group that should be responsible for ensuring that Massachusetts residents have outlets should they develop gambling addictions.

"It ought to be right smack in our wheelhouse where the Legislature put it," said Crosby, of the responsibility. "It's going to be a challenge. It's a serious problem, but there are strategies, there are tactics. We've got the time and the resources to try and address it right."

Massachusetts lawmakers had been debating the casino resort issue since Governor Deval Patrick took office. Patrick has been pushing for legislation regulating casino resorts, and after years of struggles, the governor finally saw his campaign initiative come to fruition. Lawmakers agreed on a massive gaming expansion bill earlier this year.

Part of the bill called for a gaming commission to set up the regulations for the new casinos. The commission has tasks such as setting betting limits, rules for the resorts, and tackling problem gambling.

Massachusetts is following in the footsteps of other Northeastern states. Delaware, Maine, Maryland, and Pennsylvania have all added new casinos in the years since the economic recession. Massachusetts is hoping that the revenue and job creation from the new casinos could help speed up the process of recovering from the economic recession.

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