Problem Gambling Contacts on the Rise in Florida

Legal wagering on sports has been expanding from one state to another ever since 2018 when the US Supreme Court struck down PASPA. Legalization of the activity was left in the hands of lawmakers in each state which paved the way for legal wagering in nearly 40 US states by now. Yet, amid the expansion of betting on sports, concerns about the activity’s impact on professional and collegiate sports, as well as the well-being of bettors, continue to grow.

Florida was among the states that legalized betting through a compact with the Seminole Tribe. Although this compact was signed back in 2021, it was tangled in a prolonged legal battle that halted the sports betting offering for customers in the state. Late last year, the Seminole Tribe was allowed to relaunch legal retail and online sports betting through Hard Rock Bet.

After only several months of legal wagering on sports, there’s already an uptick observed in the number of problem gambling calls, a new report suggests. As announced by WUSF, citing data from the nonprofit organization that operates a helpline providing information and support for people affected by problem gambling, the Florida Council on Compulsive Gambling Inc., the overall communication via all different channels increased exponentially.

Legislators Need to Take Action to Protect the Younger Generation

The nonprofit organization confirmed that the number of texts, emails and calls has increased by 100% ever since the launch of legal betting early in December. Richard Pinsky, the government relations representative for the council, urged lawmakers to look into this matter urgently, highlighting the need for effective regulation for gambling such as the one in effect for tobacco products.

β€œI would hope that in the future, the legislature also recognizes the same way we did it with tobacco, that that younger population needs to be more regulated, as well as the funding and the services and all the things that go along with the expansion of gambling that we are experiencing in the state of Florida.β€œ

Richard Pinsky, government relations representative with the Florida Council on Compulsive Gambling

Pinsky spoke about the addictive nature of betting, especially among younger people who are constantly using their smartphones. He said that all that is needed is for a person to β€œpick up their phone and place their bet,” adding that this ease of access removes any obstacles when it comes to wagering.

According to the expert, approximately 2% of the state’s population is affected by problem gambling. Still, Pinsky said that what’s more concerning is the negative impact of problem gambling on families and communities. He revealed that while many friends and family members of people who suffer from problem gambling may report the issue, excessive gambling can also lead to criminal activities.