The arrival of mobile sports betting in New York in early 2022 has been met with great success, attracting a large number of bettors and an influx of betting advertisements. However, underneath the glamour of this new industry, there is a growing concern about the rise of gambling addiction. Addiction clinics, such as Catholic Charities, are warning that the state’s gambling problem may be more hidden than previously thought.
In January 2022, New York entered the mobile sports wagering market, allowing nine digital sportsbooks to provide betting options on a range of sports. This digital platform is closely monitored by the New York State Gaming Commission and has contributed over $700 million in taxes to education, youth sports, and addressing gambling-related issues within just one year.
A recent interview with Jeff Footer, an associate director at the Integrated Care Clinic, revealed the startling truth about gambling addiction. He mentioned that some bettors may engage in gambling for years before facing the consequences, often keeping their struggles hidden due to shame. Technology has transformed the gambling landscape, allowing individuals to place bets with ease. According to a 2022 Harris Poll, approximately 71% of sports bettors place bets weekly, with 20% betting on sports multiple times in a single day. Spotting a gambling addiction has become increasingly difficult due to the rise of online gambling, and the longer it goes unchecked, the more destructive it becomes.
Footer also expressed concerns about the influence of gambling services on the younger generation. Games like Fortnite now incorporate live casinos, normalizing gambling among kids. There has been 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, closely linked to the introduction of mobile sports betting in New York, according to a report from the state’s Comptroller. As mobile sports betting grows in popularity, identifying a problem gambler has become even more critical, with signs including an increasing fixation on placing bets, reliance on the adrenaline rush of gambling, and escalating wager amounts and frequency, according to Shanley Olszowy, the program manager for the Western Problem Gambling Resource Center.