The legalization of mobile sports betting in New York has meant big business.
State officials said the four operators took in $150 million in wagers in the first weekend alone. And with another big weekend of NFL football coming up, that number will only grow.
The state is projecting it will bring in almost $250 million in revenue this year — and potentially double that in four years.
And while many are excited about the ease of placing a bet from their phone or tablet, it's also raising concerns for those who struggle with gambling addiction.
"It was a really sad, destructive 13 years of my life," said Scott Meyer, who battled a gambling addiction for years.
For Meyer, gambling became more than just entertainment. His losses ruined his finances, cost him his business licenses and took a toll on relationships with those he cares about the most.
"It took over my thought processes of the need to have gambling in my day," Meyer said.
Perhaps darkest moment came when he went to prison for embezzlement and fraud-related offenses because of his gambling debts.
"That alone is the lowest of all lows,” Meyer said. “The biggest loss you could possibly have is to lose your freedom.”
But from that point, he was able to turn his life around. He’s been clean for eight years, and now works in peer support for the New York Council on Problem Gambling. As the state now allows mobile sports betting, he’s concerned more people will find themselves facing some of the issues he did.
"It is a scary, scary time,” he said. “Legalizing it will only make it worse.”
Around-the-clock access to make a wager at the tip of a finger is also a worry for those trying to help at the Western Problem Gambling Resource Center.
"The increased time that people will be able to spend gambling is concerning because it can potentially lead to a quicker problem developing," said Angela DiRosa with the New York Problem Gambling Resource Center.
But there is help out there. The state’s seven problem gambling resource centers can connect people struggling and their families with counseling, Gamblers Anonymous and peer support in their communities. There’s also financial assistance available.
"Just having that peace of mind when the word is out that there’s help available can get the family back on track and on the road to recovery," said Jeffrey Wierzbicki with the Western Problem Gambling Resource Center.
It’s what helped Scott Meyer turn his life around.
"Pick up the phone. Don’t be ashamed. We are not judging you. We are here to help you. I made it. I got through something that I didn’t think I was capable of getting through," Meyer said.
If you or someone you know is having issues with gambling, you can go to nyproblemgamblinghelp.org to connect with resources in your area.
You can also talk with trained clinicians 24/7 by calling the New York State HOPE line at 877-846-7369.