Gambling addiction advocates want extra focus on prevention as NYC inches closer to possible casino deal

Gambling addiction advocates want extra focus on prevention as NYC inches closer to possible casino deal

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YONKERS, N.Y. — As the New York City area inches closer to a possible casino deal, advocates for people with gambling addictions want to double down on prevention programs.

“We know that problem gambling is prevalent in our communities,” said community advocate Leilani Yizar-Reid.

Yizar-Reid is working with the New York State Gaming Commission and Grand Empire City Casino to help ensure at-risk gamblers have the best support.

“To be able to connect people to care, whether it’s the person who is struggling with problem gambling or it’s the individuals who are affected by it,” Yizar-Reid said.

The National Council on Problem Gambling estimates 2 million adults in the United States have a gambling addiction and 6 million are considered to have mild or moderate gambling problems.

“In the field of problem gambling, it’s interesting. There’s still such a stigma … and if you think about the expansion that’s going to occur … probably expansion is going to occur here at MGM Yonkers,” said Jim Manley, executive director of the New York Council on Problem Gambling.

That expansion, expected to include Grand Empire, is part one of three casino licenses the state could soon be awarding to generate revenue and jobs.

Grand Empire currently only has slots and electronic table games, but if it wins a license, it would be able to expand into a full-scale casino with live games like poker and blackjack.

Resorts World in Queens has also been jockeying for a full-license. It’s still unclear where a third could go. Midtown Manhattan or Citi Field have been floated as possible locations.

Wednesday’s press conference in Yonkers was perhaps a chance for Empire Casino to show they’re responsible and ready.

“All employees at Empire City and every MGM property go through responsible gaming training,” said Ed Domingo, Empire City Casino by MGM Resorts general manager. “These are our experts with a heightened knowledge of detecting those showings signs of at-risk play.”

Sources say the final state budget will include a provision to allow for three licenses and money in the bill would be set aside to deal with addiction.

If you or someone you know needs help with a gambling addiction, visit for more information and resources.

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