Gambling Addiction Hotlines Witness Rise in Calls amid US Betting Surge

The expansion of sports betting has been ongoing for less than a decade and now more than half of the US states offer the popular activity. The statewide expansion of betting granted sports fans and bettors alike options for legal wagering on sports. This resulted in a decrease in the number of people who use the services of illegal, offshore operators while helping generate taxes in states where betting is legal.

Besides taxes, the legal betting sector brought benefits for the consumers, as licensed operators adhere to established regulatory standards, including rules for player protection from excessive gambling. States where wagering on sports is legal also dedicate a portion of the tax revenue to treating and combating gambling harm and addiction.

Yet, despite the good intentions of lawmakers across the country, the expansion of wagering likely was one of the major factors that contributed to an uptick in gambling addictions. Recently, local media reported that the number of problem gambling contacts in Florida skyrocketed. Data from the Council on Problem Gambling in Florida revealed that the number of calls, texts and emails skyrocketed since the launch of sports betting back in December.

The Expansion of Betting Contributes to the Increase of Problem Gambling

Besides Florida, a newly released report by NBC News suggests that an uptick in the number of problem gambling calls is observed in a number of states. To make matters worse, the expansion of betting helps attract a younger crowd, with more people in their 20s and 30s seeking treatment and support due to problem gambling.

According to the new report, the calls to Ohio’s Problem Gambling Network soared by 55% in 2023. This happened after the first full year of legal betting action.

Similarly, in Pennsylvania, the volume of problem gambling calls also increased exponentially. Between 2020 and 2023, the volume of calls with the state’s Council on Problem Gambling more than doubled.

β€œWe have every reason to believe the growth of online sports betting is a major contributing factor to the increase in gambling problems.β€œ

Keith Whyte, executive director of the NCPG

Keith Whyte, the National Council on Problem Gambling’s (NCPG) executive director, revealed that since 2018, there has been a notable increase in the severity and rate of problem gambling across the country. This was the same year when the US Supreme Court struck down PASPA which paved the way for the expansion of betting across the US.

Whyte added that the expansion of betting contributes to the ongoing increase in problem gambling. Considering the easy access to wagers, he said that that sports betting apps should offer even easier options for self-exclusion, time and spending limits as well as contact with the national helpline for problem gambling.