Local addiction centers say sports betting could prove problematic for some by end of football season

IOWA CITY, Iowa (KCRG) - It's been about a month since sports betting was legalized here in the state of Iowa. While the numbers are not in as far as how much money is being wagered, the staff at some gambling addiction service centers said they are preparing for more calls for help.

Sports betting will be allowed in Iowa starting August 15. The bill legalizing sports gambling passed in April and was signed by Gov. Reynolds in May. (MGN)

Staff with Prelude Behavioral Services, one of the partners for the state-funded BETS OFF gambling addiction service, said within the last month they have not seen much of an increase as far as people looking for help. They suspect that could change around the time football season comes to a close.

"As the bowl season starts in December and carries through January, some individuals start to sweat it out," Kirk Nesset, the Gambling Education Coordinator for Prelude Behavioral Services, said. "We won't start to really see it until maybe mid-February once the dust settles through football season."

Nesset believes sports betting, in turn, could bring in a wave of new people looking for help, either addicted gamblers or their families. He said that demographic could end up being a lot younger than they have seen in years past.

"We're going to start to see a much younger demographic looking for help," Nesset said. "Which is going to be a little bit of a change for us because traditionally, the demographic of a problem gambler once they decided to get help, is obviously a lot older than a college student."

Nesset said with the ease of access and the ability to bet on a smartphone, people can bet from anywhere. That could make problem gambling grow at a faster pace.

If you or someone you know has symptoms of problem gambling, you can call 1-800-BETS-OFF or visit the BETS OFF website for more information.