OMAHA, NE – During the College World Series and other high stakes sports events, there are many factors that increase the risk for problem gambling, but these busy events can also propagate the danger of sex trafficking.

Sex Trafficking: Because it sits at the confluence of two highways (I-29 and I-80), the city of Omaha and the entire state of Nebraska is a highly traveled route for trafficking to exist, both for transporting and locating victims. The College World Series (and any other largely attended event bringing attendees from all over the country), becomes an even higher risk area for trafficking. The large crowds and distracted individuals make it easier for these crimes to go unnoticed. Be aware of yourself and those around you, if you attend any of the large events surrounding the College World Series.

The Heartland Family Service Heartland Housing Sanctuary program provides services to survivors of human trafficking, including Sanctuary House, a crisis stabilization shelter. Crisis stabilization and case management services are key components of the program and are available every day to provide safety and support when it’s most needed. The Heartland Housing Sanctuary program also offers community-based advocacy services designed to assist survivors in any setting to develop a new start in life, as well as housing services to assist survivors in obtaining and maintaining a safe and healthy living environment, free from violence and exploitation.

Problem Gambling: The excitement and thrill of risky gambling for problem gamblers becomes even higher when there is a fun event like the College World Series (or other sports events) involved. According to Morning Consult, the legalized U.S. sports betting market doubled in 2021, with more than $52.7 billion wagered throughout the year. Reports show that if untreated, problem gambling can create co-occurring disorders including depression, substance use, and post-traumatic stress disorder. Heartland Family Service encourages people to have the conversation about gambling with those they care for who may be suffering from a problem gambling disorder.

The Heartland Family Service Problem Gambling Treatment program seeks to improve the quality of life for problem gamblers and to help them grow and live in recovery. Education of clients includes learning about the process of addiction, relapse prevention, and medical/psychological aspects of addiction. The outpatient structure enables the problem gambler to continue to meet job, school, and family obligations while managing his or her financial situation. Services include individual and group therapy and financial counseling. Counseling, education, and support services are also available to family members or concerned others. The Problem Gambling Treatment program also provides prevention information and education to the community.