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Survey says US sports betting could become a problem (for gamblers)

The rise of regulated sports betting in the United States has players from all walks of life diving into the world of wagering for the first time. That’s great news for regulated operators, but it could be harboring a significant rise in problem gambling, especially among young people.

That seems to be the major finding from a recent, first-of-its-kind, survey conducted by the National Council on Problem Gambling (NCPG). The National Survey of Gambling Attitudes and Gambling Experiences (NGAGE) 1.0, found that Americans generally approve of most forms of gambling, but find sports betting to be more acceptable than other forms of wagering. According to their findings, about one in five Americans bet on a sporting event last year, even though regulated sports betting was only available in two states when the survey was conducted.

Along with the rise of regulated sports betting, Americans saw a rise in risky behaviors associated with problem gambling. These behaviors were particularly prevalent among those who identified as sports bettors and were more pronounced in those under the age of 35. Researchers found sports bettors were five times more likely to engage in risky behaviors than other players and that, for reasons unknown, fantasy sports players were even more likely to display signs of problem gambling.

Robert Jacobson, President of the NCPG Board of Directors and Executive Director of the California Council on Problem Gambling said the survey points out a need for regulators to prioritize resources for problem gamblers saying, ““NCPG is to be commended for undertaking this enormous research project. There is no need to make assumptions or rely on much smaller studies anymore. The State Reports are especially important – whether you are an operator, regulator or health provider – since all decision-making for the gambling industry resides at the state level, and health providers address local needs.”

Lawmakers in states with regulated wagering are likely to heed his call.