March is also National Problem Gambling Awareness month, a time when the industry reflects on what it can do to help bettors who struggle with forms of gambling addiction.
As more states legalize sports betting, problem gamblers across the country face a growing risk of acting on their worst impulses.
Though many states have proposed or passed legislation to fund problem gambling treatment programs, public awareness and prevention often falls well short of what is needed to combat the issue.
Andrea Dassopoulos, a researcher for Nevada Problem Gambling Project at the International Gaming Institute, tells Gaming America: “What makes the risk higher is if there isn’t in place a program to help people who need help. Here’s a product that many people enjoy. It’s fun, it’s entertainment, but there’s a small percentage of people who will always be harmed by this. And in order to mitigate that harm there has to be some program in place if they do fall.”
According to a 2016 survey by the National Council on Problem Gambling (NCPG), public spending on services amounted to $73m nationally.
The NCPG estimates that 2m American adults fit the criteria for severe gambling addiction and another 4-6m are considered problem gamblers.
Dassopoulos said: “A person who has a problem with gambling will find ways to gamble. The best way for someone who has a gambling problem to deal with that problem is to get help, to tell their friends. The issue is really about shame and embarrassment.”
A full feature on the subject of problem gambling will be included in the upcoming issue of Gambling Insider Sports Betting Focus.