But there is no process to allow a public vote on this. The casino companies will be American so most of the profits will leave the country and Japan will be left to deal with all the social problems that come with gambling. Oneida County Sheriff Robert Maciol, who opposes legalization, raised another key point: All must be taken into consideration. To help make this website better, to improve and personalize your experience and for advertising purposes, are you happy to accept cookies and other technologies? What are the pros and cons of legalized online gambling?

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Experts believe that legalized sports betting is coming to the United States by , if not sooner. Momentum is building to expand legal sports betting outside of Nevada. Led by NBA commissioner Adam Silver, some professional sports leagues which have been long-standing staunch opponents of sports betting legalization are starting to change their tune. New Jersey's efforts to bring Las Vegas-style sports betting to Atlantic City casinos and the state's racetracks have, at a minimum, raised questions about the effectiveness of the year-old federal ban on sports betting.

Four more states -- Indiana, Minnesota, New York and South Carolina -- have introduced sports betting legislation in recent months, and two federal bills have been presented in Congress. The question is beginning to appear as if it's when, not if, sports betting will be legalized in the U. Howard Shaffer, an associate professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and a leading authority on the impact of gambling expansion, isn't sure.

Although people expected an uptick there, when they expanded gambling, it didn't really happen. I think the question is: That's all sports betting. Now, is the community mature enough to tolerate legalized sports betting? Because when sports becomes legal, there will be some people who might not have bet on sports who will now jump in.

Are those sports betting virgins, so to speak, going to be affected? I think the answer is 'yes. When sports betting is legalized, young people who have never stepped in a casino or purchased a lottery ticket will try putting money down on a game, and some will develop gambling problems.

Athletes are specifically at risk. Lives, families will be ruined. This risk can't be overstated. Experts like Shaffer say that when legal gambling expands, there is an initial increase in problem gamblers known as the exposure effect.

The more people who are exposed to gambling, the more people will gamble. A small percentage of them will develop a gambling problem. But evidence also suggests that mature gambling communities adapt to the increased exposure and are able to somewhat mitigate the initial spike in problem gamblers -- through revenue shares designated to social services, for example.

In , his addiction in full bloom, only one thing would get Hartwell up from the video poker machine -- his 2-year-old daughter. He'd always be there to pick her up from day care, albeit sometimes late. Living in Las Vegas, he found a spot with a poker machine five minutes away from the day-care center. If he hit a jackpot right before he needed to leave, he'd simply step outside the casino, call the day-care center and explain that he had a flat tire and would be a few minutes late.

A cellist and a research scientist, this was a successful, intelligent man in his early 40s, with family and friends. Yet he was living each day with the idea of getting a minimum amount of work done, leaving early and going to gamble.

He'd burn through his available cash daily in the machines and began using sports betting almost as a savings account. It was just about having action, being numbed out.

At this point, it wasn't a fun experience at all. That day, he arrived home after picking up his daughter and was confronted by his wife. She had found the mountain of credit-card debt he had accrued. After multiple failed attempts with counseling in the past, Hartwell found success through a six-week outpatient program with the Las Vegas Problem Gambling Center.

He hasn't bet since that September day. Now Hartwell, 49, has emerged as one of the few public faces of problem gambling.

More can certainly be done to spread awareness, though. According to a survey conducted by the National Council of Problem Gambling, only 1 percent of compulsive gamblers enter state-funded treatment annually. That's a problem, because treatment is often effective.

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