Mon July 16, 2012
Conference on internet gambling held in Milwaukee
Concerns about the growth of internet gambling are being highlighted at a national conference underway in Milwaukee.
Online gaming is now a $5 billion industry. The National Council on Problem Gambling says that internet gaming is primarily unregulated in Wisconsin and throughout the nation.
Keith Whyte is the council’s executive director. He says that internet gambling is not just virtual poker games and slot machines. Gambling has also invaded social media: “Now we’re seeing gambling really become one of the biggest drivers of social media. So there’s 15% of Facebook’s worldwide users that have accounts with one, just one, of the leading social game providers.”
Whyte says these social games use a ‘freemium’ model, which means that the game is free in the beginning, but requires you to pay in order to win or get to the next level. “Most social media sites don’t accept real money for gambling the way we would think of like The World Series of Poker or something online. But, it’s coming.”
Rose Gruber has also seen internet gambling addictions grow in Wisconsin. But the Director of the Wisconsin Council on Problem Gambling says that the options for any type of gambling addiction treatment in the state are limited, “There are no treatment dollars in the state of Wisconsin. So people have to either find the money, if they’re fortunate to have insurance, and if they’re fortunate enough to have an insurance company that might pay for the compulsive gambling, so those all become barriers to people reaching out to getting help.”
Gruber also says that 5-7 percent of Wisconsin residents are estimated to have a gambling problem.