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Sports Betting is on the Rise — Will Problem Gambling Follow?

Published: July 19, 2021

Since the 2018 Supreme Court ruling that enabled states to legalize sports betting, the form of gambling has significantly grown in popularity. Now, it is available in 21 states across the US, and will likely be legal in Ohio by the end of the year.

According to the American Gaming Association, sports betting revenue hit a record in 2020 at $1.5 billion. Following that record, in the first quarter of 2021, sports betting revenues increased by 270%, hitting yet another record. 

Popular sports wagering platforms are seeing rises in revenue, too. DraftKings recorded a rise of 49% in revenue, from $432 million in 2019 to $644 million in 2020. Online casino gambling wasn’t excluded from this growth trend. It tripled its revenue in 2021 compared to the same period in 2020.

With sports betting becoming more accessible and popular around the country, it begs the question: Could the prevalence of problem gambling rise with it? Problem gambling experts are worried that it’s possible, especially since data supports that growing access to gambling increases the number of people who could be impacted.

According to an Ohio survey, around 1 in 4 people who reported visiting casinos or racinos were found to have at least one symptom or behavior problem with their gambling. There is a growing concern that these numbers could rise with the legalization of sports betting.

Fortunately, consumer protections by the industry have started to increase, which means that operators could risk being fined or penalized for allowing people in their doors who are on self-exclusion lists or by operating unapproved games.

In addition, companies like DraftKings and FanDuel have incorporated features in their technology that targets potentially problematic gambling behaviors. This technology allows players to spend a limited amount of money, set deposits, and restrict themselves from placing bets for a period of time.

FanDuel became the first online sportsbook operator to join the American Gaming Association and its responsible gambling campaign, “Have a Game Plan.”

Before You Bet also provides a wealth of resources and tools that can help, including educational resources, tips on responsible gambling, and an interactive game that showcases the behaviors of responsible gambling.

In addition, there are many ways to get help if you feel that you or a loved one is at-risk of a problem with gambling. You can call the gambling helpline 24 hours a day, seven days a week at 1-800-589-9966. Click here for more information and resources.

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