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KANSAS CITY, Kan. — Sports wagering will be legal in Kansas on Thursday.

While some look forward to placing their first bets, others say there’s a darker side. Recovering gambling addicts in the Kansas City area said they fear opportunities to relapse.

A simple drive around I-435 or listen to the radio offers billboards and broadcast commercials heralding the arrival of sports gambling, and the introductory incentives each mobile app offers to sign up.

For recovering gambling addicts, like Chris Davis, legalizing another form of gambling offers a new pitfall. Davis said he hasn’t placed a bet in more than three years, but before that, he squandered thousands of dollars at the tables in riverboat casinos.

Davis said having legal sports gambling on mobile applications pushes temptation into an addict’s living room.

“There’s already people who are addicted to sports betting, but there’s some people who won’t do something if it’s illegal. Once it’s legal, then it kind of opens up that door,” Davis said.

Kansas will become the 22nd state to legalize use of sports wagering via mobile devices. The Nevada Council on Problem Gambling reports half of the people seeking treatment for gambling addiction consider taking their own lives, and 17% of them attempt suicide.

Ginger Gaddis, who also attends support group meetings for her gambling addiction, said her compulsive gambling problem pushed her to steal from family members. She said she’s strongly opposed making sports wagering so accessible.

“I’ll be on TikTok and every other ad is about gambling. It gives me a sick feeling in my stomach,” Gaddis said. “It’s really easy to do. It takes someone from the outside looking in to notice and to point it out.”

Both of the addicts in recovery we spoke with also expressed concerns about crime related to gambling, and that if triggered, addictive sports bettors might be tempted to steal, and that gambling addictions also lead to other dependencies, including drugs and alcohol.

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