Tennessee Doctors Hope State Becomes Leader In Responsible Gaming Treatment

Written By Nicholaus Garcia on October 4, 2022
tennessee responsible gambling treatment research

The director of a Tennessee problem gambling clinic says the state is on the verge of becoming a responsible gambling treatment and research leader.

In September, ETSU opened the state’s second gambling clinic, with the help of a $1.2 million grant from the Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services.

In a press release, the director of the East Tennessee State University clinic, Dr. Meredith Ginley, said the state would be a leader in the field in five years.

“In the next five years, our partnership with the Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services will make Tennessee a leader in managing gambling harms experienced by the people living in our communities.”

Helping real communities promote responsible gambling

The clinic helps those in rural and urban communities in Appalachia and falls under the umbrella of The Institute for Gambling Education and Research (TIGER).

“In the next six months, we’re hoping to roll out a website, which I think is critical because it allows people to ask questions without being able to be public and dealing with shame related to the stigma,” said Dr. James Whelan.

Whelan is the director of TIGER and the University of Memphis Gambling Clinic.

“The website will be a portal for people to get information. As we develop this past six months, we’ll be able to do some online treatment,” Whelan said.

Adapting to change

Before the launch of Tennessee mobile sports betting, the average age of a patient visiting the ETSU clinic was about 50. Now, the average age is closer to 30. According to Ginley, the increase in legal gambling in the state will push the number of problem gamblers over 100,000.

Online sports betting debuted in November 2020. Since then, 13 mobile apps have launched in the state. Tennessee has no physical casinos thus, mobile wagering is the only option for customers.

But as gaming operators continue to develop new technology to improve the user experience, so must the research of TIGER to ensure Tennesseans are receiving the most updated treatments possible.

“We’ve done a little research that shows we get some benefits from making [treatment] more interactive,” Whelan said.

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Nicholaus Garcia

Nick Garcia is a senior reporter for PlayUSA. Garcia provides analysis and in-depth coverage of the gambling industry with a key focus on online casinos, sports betting and financial markets. Garcia has been covering the US gambling market since 2017. He attended Texas Tech University as an undergrad and received a Master of Arts in Journalism from Columbia College Chicago.

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