MDHHS Hosts Virtual Gambling Disorder Symposium This Week

A year after Michigan lawmakers legalized sports betting and online gambling, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services is hosting its 14th Annual Gambling Disorder Symposium, virtually Thursday March 3 and Friday March 4.

MDHHS said the new access to online gambling and sports betting creates increased risk for gambling disorders to develop – especially for younger people. The agency says in the first year since the legalization of sports betting and online gambling,  4,400 calls were made to Michigan’s problem gambling helpline, nearly triple the number received in 2020, the year before online gambling was approved. Referrals for people to receive gambling treatment also grew significantly, from 295 referrals in 2020 to 420 referrals last year – a 42% increase.

“These platforms engage in a pay-to-play format, so by their nature they’re addicting and difficult to escape. This can lead to severe financial trouble, as well as strained personal and work relationships as people participate in these spaces more than ever before,” said Alia Lucas, MDHHS gambling disorder program manager. “Resources are available at the symposium to identify and learn about the steps you can take if you or a family member are struggling with a gambling disorder.”

The virtual symposium is free, however registration is required by 5 p.m., Tuesday, March 1.

To learn more about problem gambling in Michigan, visit:,5885,7-339-71550_2941_74002—,00.html

The symposium will address the impact of online gambling and sports betting, participants will gain an understanding of adolescent gambling problems, learn the effective use of self-exclusion as a harm reduction strategy, and broaden awareness about diversity, inclusion and equity in community gambling wellness.

If you suspect that you or someone you love may be struggling with a gambling disorder, the Michigan Problem Gambling Helpline, 800-270-7117, is open for crisis intervention and referral to treatment. Trained and experienced counselors are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week to provide immediate help to address issues related to gambling disorder, including screening services and referrals to treatment or support groups.