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The stigma of Sports Gambling… The hidden addiction

by WayneTimes.com
September 9, 2023

The rewards for mobile sports betting for the State of New York are obvious. From January 8th, 2022 to January 7th, 2023 the State raked in $909 million and an additional $200 million in licensing and another $709 million on the profits at a 51% tax rate on the six approved, legal sportsbook  companies operating in the state.

State leaders say the revenue goes towards education, which on the surface seems like a win-win for the people of New York.

But there is most definitely a major downside. New Yorkers Wagered $16,595,732,482 and LOST over $1.4 BILLION on mobile sports betting apps during that same period.

The State has considered problem gamblers by requiring the sportsbook companies and other forms of advertized gambling to put warnings on ads, usually in very small print, or quick quotes giving problem gamblers a solution. They also set aside 1% of revenues to address problem gamblers.

On average, there are 1.2 billion transactions with New York residents loosing $4 million dollars a day.

Nationally the MoffettNathanson Research estimates the sports betting market will increase exponentially in 2025 to $11 billion in revenue, from $1.13 billion in 2020. It is projected to grow to $3.6 billion in 2021 and $15 billion in 2030.

Closer ties between networks and sports gambling operations are expected in the near future.

Simply watching a game and cheering on your favorite teams has been completely overhauled.

"Betting itself is a huge fan engagement tool...People tend to get more emotionally involved when money is involved."- NBA Brooklyn Nets Owner Joe Tsai.

So, what is the impact of problem gambling sports bettors v. other types of problem gambling?

According to the Western & Finger Lakes Problem Gambling Resource Center (PGRC) :

• Sports betters are  three times more likely to need to gamble with three times more money for the same thrill.

• They are be three times more likely to have felt restless or irritable when trying to cut back.

• They are five time more likely to need others to pay their bills

• Seven times more likely to have lied about their gambling.

According to Jeffrey Wierzbicki, Western & Finger Lakes PGRC’s team Leader there are an estimated 665,000 problem gamblers just in New York State, a number close to the estimated residents dealing with alcohol addiction. "That blew my mind," he quipped. He added that the public’s view of problem gamblers in a smoky back room filled with card sharks is a misnomer. Gambling has taken the forefront of public life for the problem gambler.

Wierzbicki stated the thought that problem gamblers can just stop, either by will, or by running out of money, is somewhat comparable to a  alcohol, or drug addict. Problem gambling is a disorder, an addiction and that has no simple solutions. A problem gambler will find a way, legally, or illegally to feed their habit. Gambling impacts the same dopamine receptors as drugs or alcohol, but is even more addictive.

The consequences from one’s gambling behaviors can include, anxiety, depression, withdrawal from family and events, loss of a job, bankruptcy, lying to family members and friends to hide the extent of gambling, inability to cut back or stop, just getting angry when unable to stop and even legal problems from fraud or theft.

"We have seen a dramatic increase in calls for help since mobile sports betting launched last year. Some areas of the state have seen an increase of as much as 100%. Mobile sports betting allows bettors to place bets on sporting events on their mobile phones and devices. There is even live in game betting available and sports from all over the world. Sports can be bet on almost 24/7.

Concerning for us, anytime we have seen an increase in accessibility of an activity that can be addictive, we see a corresponding increase in people developing problems or addiction. We have never seen an increase in accessibility like we are seeing with mobile sports betting," commented Wierzbicki.

Problem gambling is often called the “Hidden Addiction” because there is a stigma and often shame attached to it and people will hide it from loved ones and friends.

"The the Western & Finger Lakes Problem Gambling Resource Center is seeing an alarming increase in calls from younger demographics, 18-30 years old and college students as well. The risk for developing a gambling problem more than doubles in a college setting. 75 percent of college students report gambling in the past year. College students we are hearing from are blowing through their savings in just a few months and unable to return to school. This has also led to an increase in calls from parents of college students trying desperately to help their child.

In the Journal of Gambling Issues Volume 43, December 2019 – 98% of online gambling sports bettors are male. The average age is 10 years younger than the casual sports bettor.

We are now seeing an increase in the number of females betting on sports, whether it is to fit in on campus, connect with a boyfriend or because of the accessibility, we are seeing a shift.

Gambling problems show a high likelihood of mental health disorders: Depression, anxiety, substance use, and anti-social personality disorders.

34 percent of those seeking help for gambling addiction exhibit symptoms of PTSD.

The likelihood of developing a gambling addiction increases 23-fold for people affected by alcohol use disorders.

Problem gambling has the highest rate of suicide among all addictions. 1 in 5 will attempt or die by suicide. 

No problem that someone may be experiencing is “not bad enough” to seek help. Anxiety when trying to stop? Relationship issues? Absenteeism? Lost productivity at work? Financial problems? Suicidal ideations? Call for help.

"Concerning for us, anytime we have seen an increase in accessibility of an activity that can be addictive, we see a corresponding increase in people developing problems or addiction. We have never seen an increase in accessibility like we are seeing with mobile sports betting," said Wierzbicki

If you or someone you know is struggling with gambling, the Finger lakes Problem Gambling Resource Center is just a phone call away. Online resources, individual and family counseling, peer support, recovery groups and referrals are all available when you reach out to our amazing staff. 

The Finger Lakes Problem Gambling Resource Center is Here to Help. Local, confidential, financial assistance may be available. No barriers, call now 585-351-2262 of FingerLakesPGRC@nyproblemgambling.org

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