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6 Months After Casino Opens In Springfield, Massachusetts, Gambling Addiction Services Roll Out… Slowly

Slot machines at the MGM casino in Springfield, Massachusetts. Photo by Karen Brown for NEPR

Slot machines at the MGM casino in Springfield, Massachusetts. Photo by Karen Brown for NEPR

Half a year since the opening of the MGM casino in Springfield, Massachusetts, some mental health counselors are seeing an uptick in gambling among clients — though not necessarily an increase in people seeking addiction treatment.

The Gandara Center is a mental health clinic in the North End of Springfield, where daytime TV plays continuously in the waiting room.

Gandara therapists like Crystal Aviles Del Valle mostly serve clients on public assistance. She said that before MGM opened, only a few of her patients gambled regularly. Now, she estimates 85 percent do.

Del Valle thinks her clients use gambling as a coping mechanism for stress or depression.

“So [patients say], ‘Instead of maybe going out shopping, now I go to the casino,'” she said.

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