Problem Gambling in California

There’s a glaring vacancy on the U.S. states with legal sports betting map. It’s found at the southernmost stretch of coastal land and is home to America’s largest population – California. After voters resoundingly rejected Propositions 26 and 27 to legalize sports betting at the end of 2022, experts predict that it will be at least two years until it could become a reality.

Does this make the Golden State a safe haven for vulnerable individuals? Unfortunately, no.

Despite California refusing to join the “union” of nearly three dozen states that permit sports betting, vulnerable residents are already fighting a gambling crisis. As a result, the demand for a more robust California problem gambling helpline (and related services) is on the rise. Let’s review.

Why The Threat of Problem Gambling is Very Real for Vulnerable Populations in California (and what you can do to get help)

Various Forms of Gambling Are Permitted in California

The state’s position against sports betting is admirable but it can’t keep problem gambling out of its borders. Residents have a number of ways they can legally gamble in California. These pathways include the following:

  • Licensed cardrooms (i.e. poker)
  • State sanctioned charitable gaming (i.e. bingo, poker nights, etc.)
  • Parimutuel wagering on horse racing at racetracks, satellite wagering facilities, and online via advance-deposit wagering platforms
  • Lottery (i.e. Powerball, etc.)
  • Indian casinos

The latter gambling avenue (Indian gaming) is particularly problematic as California is the nation’s largest Indian gaming state with 76 Indian casinos and 5 mini-casinos. These operations pull in an annual average of $9 billion. California residents are gambling, and gambling BIG.

Gambling Tourism to States with Legal Sports Betting

If casino gaming and horse racing betting doesn’t satisfy the gambling appetite, residents can simply take a quick trip across state borders. Sports bettors can drive, bike, or even walk across to the three U.S. states which border California. Arizona, Nevada, and Oregon all offer sports betting, and California residents are legally permitted to wager on sports within these respective state lines. Roughly 30% of Las Vegas’ visitors come from California, and with an average visitor age of 44 (according to it’s a safe bet to state that they have come to gamble. Sports betting tourism is a major contributor to California’s gambling crisis.

California Residents Who Need Help Today

The data is crystal clear. The California Council on Problem Gambling reports that approximately 3.7% of adults are problem or pathological gamblers. Meanwhile, the California Department of Health reports that over a million of it’s residents suffer from problem gambling.

Even more concerning, is that there are a large number of residents who are more vulnerable to developing gambling disorder than the general population. For instance, California is ranked third amongst U.S. states with resident military veterans with nearly 1.4 million living within. Research shows that there is an alarming link between military service and gambling disorder. The rate of problem gambling among active duty military is 3.5 times higher than among civilians, while another study finds that veterans are over 10 times more likely to experience a gambling problem. Another population that is more likely to gamble (and therefore more likely to develop gambling disorder) are video gamers. According to a recent study California ranks in the Top 10 U.S. states most obsessed with video gaming. Gamers are 4.3 times more likely to gamble than the general population. In addition, California ranks 14th in the nation for residents with elevated stress levels. Stress and problem gambling are co-occurring conditions. These population segments are just the tip of the iceberg, as there are a number of other mental and behavioral conditions with comorbidity to gambling disorder.

No matter how you look at it, California has a gambling problem on its hands. And since you’re online and searching for a problem gambling helpline, the behavioral health disorder has already impacted you or a loved one.

As the USA’s most populated state, the demand for a helpline and support services traditionally exceeded supply. Kindbridge Behavioral Health has stepped up to help fill this demand. We offer individual, family, and group support services for problem gamblers in California along with all other U.S. states.

California Problem Gambling Helpline

CALL +1 (877) 426-4258


Email [email protected]

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