The state's first full-blown casino is now open for business. MGM Springfield opened its doors today. Tax revenue from the casino is expected to bring in about $100 million annually for the state and $25 million for the city of Springfield. State and local leaders are touting the economic boon for western Massachusetts, but what about a potential downside, like the financial and social costs of gambling addiction? University of Massachusetts-Amherst Professor Rachel Volberg has studied problem gambling for the Massachusetts Gaming Commission, which regulates casinos in the state. Volberg spoke with WGBH's All Things Considered host Barbara Howard about her studies into problem gambling. The following transcript has been edited for clarity.

Barbara Howard: Can you talk about the uptick in gambling addiction that follows the opening of new casinos?

Rachel Volberg: What the research shows is that, within a window of about one to four years after the introduction of a new form of gambling, there is an uptick in the rate of problem gambling in the adult population.

Howard: Of course there is the cost to an individual of losing their shirt, but they took the risk. So why should it matter to the rest of us?

Volberg: One person with a gambling problem is certainly a concern, but an even greater concern is the average of six or seven other people that are affected by that person's gambling. Family members, a spouse, children, parents, employers who may have someone who has access to money and commits embezzlement. You know, the waves ripple out further into society.

Howard: So there are social costs. Is there any way to quantify that?

Volberg: There was a study back in 1999 that looked at the national impacts of the expansion of both lottery and casino gambling in the 1990s. That found that every problem gambler cost society about $9,000. But it was just the dollar amount that that person's treatment cost. There weren't the sort of non-monetary impacts of a gambling problem, which can be emotional problems, or financial woes, or any number of different things that you may not have the ability to put a dollar figure on those impacts.

Howard: What percentage of those who use casinos are problem gamblers?

Volberg: We actually have data from Massachusetts prior to the opening of any casinos. There was a survey that we did in 2013 and 2014 of almost 10,000 adult residents of Massachusetts. We found in that study about a quarter of Massachusetts adults actually had gambled at a casino in the past year, most of them in Connecticut and Rhode Island. And I believe about six percent of them had a gambling problem.

Howard: What sort of people become addicted to gambling? Are there any common factors?

Volberg: There are some demographic characteristics. Young adult problem gamblers are more likely to be male than female. In Massachusetts, we know that African-Americans are at higher risk for a gambling problem, as are people with lower education.

Howard: Are there any types of gambling, the actual games, that are more addictive than others?

Volberg: We've looked at that in other jurisdictions, we haven't looked at that yet in Massachusetts. But some of the most risky forms of gambling are actually slot machines and online gambling.

Howard: I understand that the Gaming Commission has a “GameSense” program in place to help protect against problem gambling and to deal with people who are at risk. Do you think the safeguards will be effective?

Volberg: I think it's a little bit too early to tell. We certainly have high hopes for the effectiveness of those programs, but there's actually relatively little research that's available about the effectiveness of these kinds of programs, so I can't really speak to the research findings.

Howard: Can you tell me how Massachusetts stacks up against other states when it comes to researching problem gambling?

Volberg: The state of Massachusetts is really in a class of one when it comes to the amount of research and the kinds of research that the Gaming Commission has funded over the last five years.

Howard: Let me ask you this — and you don't have to answer it — but back in 2014, when this was a ballot question put to the voters of Massachusetts whether or not to have casinos in the state, how did you yourself vote?

Volberg: I tried to maintain a very neutral attitude. I was neither for or against it, and in fact my husband found a lawn sign for each of the sides of the proposal, and I have them both up in my office.

Howard: Thanks for joining us, Professor Volberg.

Volberg: Absolutely.

Howard: That's UMass-Amherst Professor Rachel Volberg. She works on the issue of problem gambling and has studied it for the Massachusetts Gaming Commission, which regulates casinos in the state of Massachusetts. This is WGBH's All Things Considered.