The launch of mobile sports betting in New York in early 2022 has undoubtedly been a triumph, with staggering popularity and a hefty influx of betting advertisements. However, beneath the glitzy surface, a hidden battle against gambling addiction is quietly escalating. Addiction clinics like Catholic Charities are sounding the alarm, suggesting that the Empire State’s gambling problem might be more concealed than we think.
The Empire State ventured into the mobile sports wagering market in January 2022, permitting nine digital sportsbooks to legally offer betting options on various sports. This digital realm is vigilantly overseen by the New York State Gaming Commission, contributing over $700 million in taxes to education, youth sports, and combating gambling-related issues within a year.
Recognizing the Silent Struggle
In a recent interview, Jeff Footer, an associate director at the Integrated Care Clinic, revealed a disquieting truth. Some bettors, he stated, have been engaging in gambling for as long as seven or eight years before the consequences catch up with them. These individuals, dealing with gambling problems, often keep their struggles hidden from family and friends due to a sense of shame.
Mr. Footer further explained how technology has transformed the landscape of gambling. No longer constrained to physical casinos, individuals can now place bets with a mere tap of their fingertips. According to a Harris Poll from 2022, roughly 71% of sports bettors place bets at least once a week, and 20% of them wager on sports multiple times in a single day.
He emphasized that, with the rise of online gambling, identifying a gambling addiction in a loved one has become increasingly challenging. The longer the addiction remains unchecked, the more destructive it becomes. Signs of a gambling problem might include heightened irritability, isolation, and a sudden loss of control.
The Youthful Influence of Gambling Services
Mr. Footer also expressed concerns about the younger generation. Games like Fortnite now incorporate live casinos, making gambling seem almost commonplace among kids. He urged everyone worried about a loved one’s gambling issues to initiate a conversation and help them seek assistance.
Troubling Statistics from the Comptroller
A recent report from New York’s Comptroller has presented disconcerting data. It revealed a 26% increase in problem gambling-related calls to the Office of Addiction Services and Supports in fiscal year 2022-23 compared to the previous year. This surge is closely linked to the introduction of mobile sports betting in the Empire State.
As the popularity of mobile sports betting continues to soar, Shanley Olszowy, the program manager for the Western Problem Gambling Resource Center, has offered valuable insights on identifying a problem gambler. Warning signs may include an increasing fixation on placing bets, a dependence on the adrenaline rush of gambling, and the progressive escalation of wagered amounts and frequency.