Project Build Up

Strengthen the capacity of your outpatient substance use or gambling treatment agency to provide or promote problem gambling treatment services. Project Build Up (PBU) is focused on helping your agency create culturally responsive practices that address health and racial equity to support communities that are disproportionately impacted by problem gambling.

Project Build Up (PBU) is a Grant and Community Support Initiative funded by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health’s (MDPH) Office of Problem Gambling Services (OPGS) and administered by Health Resources in Action (HRiA).

PBU Learning Academy: Exploring Sports Betting & Problem Gambling

Session 1: March 5, 2024 1:00-4:00

Session 2: March 7, 2024 1:00-4:00

This training counts toward the MA PGS Certificate Clinical Core Competency Coursework.

This year marks the first anniversary since sports betting was legalized in Massachusetts. Sportsbook apps allow users to place multiple bets with just a few simple clicks, anytime, anywhere, increasing the risks associated with problem gambling. Yet the corresponding influx of promotional offers and advertisements from online sportsbooks market “risk free” sports betting opportunities to engage new bettors. With the expansion of legal gambling throughout the state, Project Build Up (PBU), a grant and community support Initiative, seeks to educate clinicians and medical providers working in the field of addiction on the topic of sports betting, including how it can lead to addictive behaviors and ways to provide support to those struggling with their gambling. 

The PBU Learning Academy is a two-day, six-hour (total) virtual training that will take place on Tuesday March 5th and Thursday March 7th from 1:00 to 4:00pm. This training program is geared towards clinical providers and other allied health professionals who are interested in better understanding the mechanics of sports betting, the unique risk that engaging in sports betting might pose for the development of a gambling addiction, and what can be done to better support clients who are struggling with their gambling. Participants will have opportunities to hear from those with lived experience as well as providers with extensive experience providing treatment for Gambling Disorder related to sports betting.   

Cost: Free

Location: Virtual

Number of CE(s): 5.5

Instructional Level: Introductory

Learning Objectives Session 1:

  1. Identify risk factors for sport betting and how someone’s background either as an athlete or sports fan can contribute to risk.
  2. Use evidence-informed clinical interventions that can be utilized with most sports bettors during therapy.
  3. Explain the pervasiveness of sports betting advertisements and how ads make false claims that are meant to draw people in.
  4. Explain the mechanics of sports betting including the multiple types of bets in order to deeper understand the accessibility and the potential addictive-ness of sports betting.

Learning Objectives Session 2:

  1. Demonstrate a comprehensive understanding of the diverse forms of sports betting, and explain how they relate to other addictive behaviors.
  2. Identify and articulate at least two research findings from the field of sports betting that can be effectively integrated into my clinical practice.
  3. List at least two examples of online responsible gambling tools, how to find them, and how to explain their purpose to a client.
  4. Recognize instances that exemplify the polarizing impact of responsible gambling tools, explaining their dual potential to both assist and impede individuals struggling with gambling-related issues, depending upon the individual’s circumstances.


Session 1 (3/5/24): Sports Betting Mindsets in Clinical Settings

  • Welcome and introductions
  • Presentation by Jody Bechtold and Rob Bumbaco about “Promoting Sports Betting Awareness in Treating Problem Gambling”
  • Discussion and Q&A
  • Break
  • Presentation by Nakita Sconsoni about “Sports Betting Advertising at a Glance”
  • Breakout group activity about “Identifying Sports Betting Advertising Ploys”
  • Large group shareback
  • Final questions and key takeaways

Session 2 (3/7/24): Sports Betting Research and Implications for Clinicians

  • Welcome and introductions
  • Lived experience presentation by Math
  • Discussion/Q&A
  • Presentation by Shane Kraus about “Current Sports Betting Research and How it Can be Applied to Clincians”
  • Discussion and Q&A
  • Break
  • Presentation by Elizabeth Bice about “Online Responsible Gambling Tools”
  • Breakout group activity about “Advantages and Disadvantages to Using Responsible Gambling Tools”
  • Final questions key takeaways, sharing gambling-related resources, and wrap up

*Please note that due to limited space PBU can only accept two people from an individual organization to join, we appreciate your understanding.

Instructor Bios Session 1: 

Instructor #1: Jody Bechtold, LCSW, ICGC-II, BACC, IGDC, CGT is a highly regarded gambling addiction expert working extensively across the globe with individuals, organizations, and associations. She is the CEO of The Better Institute, a group practice located in Pittsburgh. She is the co-author of The Gambling Disorder Treatment Handbook: A Guide for Mental Health Professionals (2021) and 2 chapters in the Social Workers Desk Reference v 4 on Gambling and Gaming Disorders, published in 2022. She serves as an Advisor to several startup and non-profits organizations including GamFin, Birches Health, and Seagulls Flock in the Philippines. She also serves as an Emeritus board member for the International Gambling Counselor Certification Board (IGCCB). Jody holds a master’s degree in social work from the University of Pittsburgh’s School of Social Work and has several certifications with the International Gambling Counselor Certification Board (ICGC-II, IGDC, BACC, CGT).

Instructor #2: Rob Bumbaco is a licensed clinical social worker and certified mental coach. Rob earned his master’s degree in social work from the University of Pittsburgh and his bachelor’s degree in psychology from Niagara University. Rob is the COO of The Better Institute, a private practice located in Pittsburgh, PA. In addition to his clinical background, Rob is a former Division 1 athlete. Rob is the founder of Back in the Game ®. Back in the Game is a program within The Better Institute designed to support athletes in the following areas: sports performance, recovery from injury, at-risk behaviors, and /mental health. He hosts the weekly podcast Back in the Game: A Sports and Mindset Podcast.

Instructor #3: Nakita Sconsoni, MSW; Community Health Educator at the Division on Addiction at Cambridge Health Alliance. Ms. Sconsoni graduated from the University of New Hampshire (UNH) with her Masters in Social Work. While at UNH, she completed her graduate level internship at the Center for Life Management in Derry, NH where she worked as a mental health therapist for adults comorbidly diagnosed with a developmental disability and a mental health condition. She has also developed and facilitated trainings on a variety of topics pertaining to Gambling Disorder (including treatment best practices, screening, and assessment) for Massachusetts social workers, mental health and addiction specialists, healthcare specialists, and peer recovery specialists and support staff.

Instructor Bios Session 2: 

Instructor #1: Mathematics is an inspirational recovery coach and consultant, group specialist, public speaker and poet. He has reinvented himself many times over after spending 15 winters and 14 summers in state prison, going to 131 detox facilities, eight stabilization programs, four halfway houses and surviving seven overdoses. With personal experience in addiction and recovery, prison and street culture, Mathematics overlaps a message of overcoming obstacles and achieving success by sharing practical steps towards change. Mathematics realizes that he was planted in his pain to find his purpose which is to inspire, uplift, and be of service to others. Mathematics has spoken at diverse settings, both large and small, around the Southeast Region. Covering topics about change, the 12 steps of recovery, the power of transformation, and being a living example to show that change is possible, are just a few areas of  Mathematics’ expertise. He has curated several social media platforms with content that promotes positive growth and motivation. He attended The School of Hard Knocks, Cambridge Rindge and Latin, Roxbury Community College (The B.A.C.E Program) and has certifications from Brandeis and Boston College for small business and life skills training. Most of all, he has turned his brand, Motivated by Math, from a message into a movement for personal and social transformation.

Instructor #2: Shane Kraus, PhD; Shane Kraus is an assistant professor at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. He is interested in the study of psychopathology, substance use disorders, gambling disorder, and compulsive sexual behavior disorder (CSBD). He is particularly interested in using behavioral, epidemiological, and neurobiological methods to assess factors that contribute to the development of addictive behaviors and other co-occurring psychiatric disorders among high-risk groups (e.g., US military veterans, young adults). Dr. Kraus received his PhD in clinical psychology (emphasis: community psychology) from Bowling Green State University in 2013. He completed his pre-doctoral psychology internship at the VA Ann Arbor Healthcare System in 2013 and his post-doctoral advanced psychology fellowship at the VISN 1 New England MIRECC, VA Connecticut Healthcare System and Yale School of Medicine, Department of Psychiatry in 2015.

Instructor #6: Elizabeth Bice, BA; Program Associate for the Massachusetts Technical Assistance Center for Problem Gambling Treatment and Program Coordinator at Health Resources in Action. Ms. Bice has developed and facilitated online training on a variety of topics pertaining to Gambling Disorder (including promoting problem gambling services) for Massachusetts social workers, mental health and addiction specialists, and healthcare specialists.  

Approval Statements:

American Psychological Association (APA) – The Division on Addiction is approved by the American Psychological Association to sponsor continuing education for psychologists. The Division on Addiction maintains responsibility for this program and its content. This program offers 5.5 continuing education credits.

National Association for Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Counselors (NAADAC) –  This course has been approved by the Division on Addiction, as a NAADAC Approved Education Provider, for 5.5 CEs. NAADAC Provider #84058, the Division on Addiction is responsible for all aspects of the programing.

National Association of Social Workers (NASW) – This program has been approved for 5.5 Social Work Continuing Education hours for relicensure, in accordance with 258 CMR. NASW-MA Chapter CE Approving Program, Authorization Number D 92470.

Licensed Alcohol and Drug Counselor (LADC) – The Massachusetts Technical Assistance Center for Problem Gambling Treatment is authorized by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health to sponsor, conduct or approve continuing education programs for alcohol and drug counselors/assistants (LADCs). This program offers 5.5 continuing education credits.

Funding Statement: The Division on Addiction and Health Resources in Action collaborate to produce M-TAC trainings, courses, and resources, which are funded by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, Office of Problem Gambling Services. The instructors have no financial interests that might create a conflict of interest in the development or delivery of this training. Click here to access our full list of our funders and conflict of interest/grievance policies and procedures.