In a new ad released by the No on Prop 27 campaign, Dr. Anna Lembke, professor and medical director of addiction medicine at Stanford University, voiced her concerns about Prop 27 and how it could create an addiction crisis in California.
Prop 27 backers looking to 2024
Proposition 27, which would permit licensed tribes or gambling companies to offer California sports betting, is on the Nov. 8 ballot.
The CEOs of DraftKings and FanDuel — major backers of Prop 27 — recently admitted that they’re hopeful for passage in 2022 but are looking to 2024 to get a sports betting bill passed.
Proposition 27 requires companies offering sports betting to make certain payments to the state for specific purposes. For instance, payments must be made to support state regulatory costs and to address homelessness.
At present, the state bans sports betting, although some forms of gambling are legal. They include tribal gaming, the state lottery, cardrooms and horse betting.
Lembke penned editorial against Prop 27
“As a doctor specializing in addiction medicine, I’ve been getting a lot of questions lately about Prop 27,” Lembke (pictured) said in a political commercial.
“The research is clear. Turning virtually every cellphone into a gambling device will drastically increase gambling addiction while exposing millions of kids to online gambling. In fact, states that have legalized online sports betting have reported a 200% increase in calls to problem gambling hotlines. The last thing California needs is another addiction crisis. Please, get the facts and vote No on Proposition 27.”
Earlier this month, Lembke, a national leader in addiction medicine, penned an op-ed for the San Jose Mercury News. In it, she laid out her reasoning as to why the proposal could prove detrimental to Californians.
To illustrate her point, she cited the example of a young physician. While in medical school, he became addicted to online sports betting. It all began as a form of light recreation, with the young man occasionally betting on professional sports teams. However, before long, betting progressed to a daily habit and became even more tricky once online gambling was made available.
Soon the trust fund he had inherited to pay for medical school had been gambled away. The young physician didn’t have the heart to tell his family what had happened. Instead, he took out a loan to replace the money he had squandered. Eventually, those funds were gambled away too.
Lembke says behavioral addiction and problem gambling calls are increasing
Lembke believes that one of the major risk factors for addiction is easy to access. Anyone around drugs or who can easily obtain them stands a greater risk of trying them, she said.
According to Lembke, in the past 30 years, there’s been an increase in access to digital drugs such as gambling, gaming, shopping, pornography and social media. And this has resulted in higher levels of behavioral addiction across the world.
In her op-ed piece, Lembke asserts that “these digital drugs are engineered to be addictive, and unfortunately, they’re working exactly as intended.” She says she now sees more patients with severe and life-threatening addictions to digital drugs.
States that have legalized sports betting are seeing increased calls to their problem gambling hotlines, according to Lembke. New Jersey has witnessed a 500% rise in calls. The numbers in Pennsylvania and Connecticut have spiked to 285% and 203%, respectively, she said.
Lembke believes the citizens of California are entitled to sensible, comprehensive policies when it comes to online gambling. In her view, these policies must consider the substantial costs to individual and public health, in particular, the risk of addiction.
Rallying cries against CA sports betting props are working
Editorials like Lembke’s have become common in newspapers across California ahead of Election Day. The Golden State’s sports betting battle is already the most expensive war in US history. As of publication, nearly $457 million has been spent across all sports betting campaigns.
Early indications are that neither Prop 27 nor Prop 26, which would legalize in-person sports betting, will pass. Both competing initiatives face double-digit deficits as California voters prepare to go to the polls.