The sports betting market in America has grown exponentially after the Supreme Court ruled in favor of New Jersey in May 2018 and repealed the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992 (PASPA) which allowed individual states to decide whether to legalize sports betting or not.

Over 20 States With Legalized Sports Betting

Since May 2018, more than 20 states in America have legalized sports betting and another 10 plus states are in the process of discussing sports betting legalization. Nevada which once dominated the sports betting market prior to PASPA 1992 has faced stiff competition from New Jersey in recent months.

Sports betting is currently up and running in 19 states with another 5 states that have legalized sports betting waiting to launch their sports betting industries. The COVID-19 pandemic has spurred a number of states that were sitting on the fence regarding legalized sports betting to make the decision to legalize betting and enter this lucrative market as they are looking for new revenue streams to kick-start their struggling economies.

While there are a number of pros to legalizing sports betting, the biggest concern continues to be the increase in problem gambling numbers. Betting on sports turned out to be especially risky, with easy access to free betting opportunities pulling them in.

The National Council on Problem Gambling (NCPG) recently released a report which shows that problem gambling numbers are increasing as the legalized sports betting market continues to expand throughout the country.

NCPG Problem Gambling Stats

The NCPG did a survey in 2021 which showed that more than 50 percent of the respondents under the age of 35 answered at least one question that indicated they were experiencing signs of problem gambling.

The National Survey of Gambling Attitudes and Gambling Experiences (NGAGE) report gives state legislators important information to help them understand the impact that sports betting is having on the American people, especially the younger generation.

Four questions regarding signs of problem gambling were posed to participants. Only 10 percent of those over 65 answered yes to one or more of these questions while more than 50 percent answered yes to one or more of these questions under 35.

The survey also showed that Americans were very eager to place bets on sports and were willing to break the law to do so. More than 50 percent of adults located in Utah and Hawaii where sports betting is still illegal, admitted to placing wagers on sports.

The report also showed that sports bettors were more open to admitting that they had gambling problems when compared to non-sports bettors. Sports bettors who wagered regularly on a weekly basis were five times more likely to report problem gambling behavior.

With sports betting legalization continuing to expand in America, state legislators need to address these growing signs of problem gambling.

Problem Gambling Awareness – A Must

The United Kingdom experienced massive growth in online gambling but did not do enough to address the concerns of problem gambling. As a result, the UK is now struggling to combat the growing rise in problem gambling measures and is now under pressure from the general public to do more to combat gambling addiction in Britain.

America needs to learn from the UK’s mistakes and not wait for problem gambling numbers to skyrocket. One of the main ways that American states can curb sports betting addiction is to increase the awareness of problem gambling, highlight the tools that bettors can use to protect themselves, and allocate more funding to gambling addiction organizations.

State legislators, betting operators and gaming regulators need to work closely together to put in place regulations that govern sports betting advertising, know your customer protocols, responsible gambling policies, and self-exclusion tools.

Most sports bettors are not aware of the self-exclusion tools that are at their disposal because it is not highlighted enough.

Gaming Regulator Must Show The Way

Sportsbooks need to take on the responsibility to do more to protect vulnerable bettors. However, it is the duty of the state gaming regulator to carefully monitor the operations of its licensed betting operators and ensure that they are following regulations and protecting their players at all times.

If the gaming watchdog finds that a betting operator has violated gaming regulations and allowed a problem gambler to bet excessively or did not complete a proper KYC procedure, then betting operators need to be fined heavily and a strong message needs to be sent to the betting industry.

Shutdown Illegal Sportsbooks

The authorities also need to do more to address the rise in illegal sportsbooks. As long as young punters have the opportunity to place bets at these illegal sportsbooks, they will continue to be at risk and open to exploitation. One of the ways that this can be addressed is to impose harsh penalties on illegal sportsbooks as this will discourage them from running afoul of the law.