Problem Gambling News February 2024

We’re just over one full month into 2024 and problem gambling news across America is louder than ever. And it’s not just about concerns surrounding the upcoming Super Bowl. Big changes (some good, some challenging) are expected to come down the pipeline in the very near future. Please read ahead for updates that may have an impact on your life, household, or organization.

February 2024 Developments Regarding Problem Gambling that America Needs to Know About

60-Minutes Shines Light on Sports Betting Crisis in America

On Sunday evening of February 4th, CBS News’ 60-Minutes released a groundbreaking exposé on the sports betting crisis in America. It was a robust piece, that began with a focus on how operators are targeting young males aged 25-34. The consequences of this are being felt in helpline calls to problem gambling hotlines, which is something that Kindbridge has been reporting on often over the past year.

Problem Gambling News February 2024

The reporter interviewed a 26 year old man by the name of Joe Ruscillo, who detailed the allure of sports betting to his demographic:

“The sportsbooks, the commercials, and the leagues themselves are making it look so cool to gamble and risk your money.”

The program then went on to discuss the role of smartphone apps which make sports betting exponentially more accessible to young men like Joe Ruscillo.

“It had a big impact. I worked my whole life, so I get a check every week, but I would deposit it into whatever app I was using […] You can wake up in the middle of the night, take your phone out, set an alarm for a match maybe overseas or something like that. I would place a bet on anything, anywhere, at anytime.”

Ruscillo’s accounting aligns with gambling addiction therapist, Harry Levant, who was interviewed by 60-Minutes for further insight into the crisis among young men.

“I have patients who gamble in the shower. I have patients who gamble before they get out of bed in the morning. I have patients who gamble while they are driving. There are no guardrails […] I have patients, some of whom are college students who have gambled federal student loan money. I have young patients who have gambled away inheritances.

Levant went on to discuss how online sportsbooks are leveraging artificial intelligence – which we have also covered extensively – in player retention practices. Leading gambling reformer from the UK, Matt Zarb-Cousin, was also consulted on the topic of how tech is the catalyst to America’s new gambling crisis. Zarb-Cousin made a simple but astute observation:

“I would say, understand what the nature of these companies really is. They are big data companies that are extractive […] Addiction is intensified by how much gambling companies know about each user.”

Operators are using this data in player retention and reengagement strategies by sending them offers (that a user has responded to in the past) via push notifications (to coincide with when the user is generally most active) to reload their accounts and make wagers on sports and games that they have a known affinity for.

While the same AI driven technology can be used to identify problem gamblers, the report criticizes America’s top operators for not doing enough to protect young American males. 60-Minutes indicated that representatives of DraftKings declined an interview. Viewers can draw their own conclusions regarding that “non event”, but it’s important to note that DraftKings has joined forces with Kindbridge to provide players with greater access to online support for problem gambling. BetMGM has also done the same. More are expected to follow suit in light of this recent feature from 60-Minutes which will surely light a fire across the industry. The report concludes with news that congress is being lobbied to enact federal regulations on online sports betting promotions, which is something that Kindbridge predicted at the onset of 2024.

You can watch the full episode here (beginning from minute 28:26).

Online Gambling Gains Ground

This bit of problem gambling news carries over from the 60-Minutes report above. While in-person sports betting has been legal in more than three-dozen U.S. states since 2018, online gaming remained outlawed in a number of them. State regulators from the latter have inferred that the holdback would help get their ducks in row with respect to Responsible Gaming, but in reality it has had a lot do do with worries over how online betting could erode profits that casinos make for running on-premises sportsbooks. With states recognizing that there is a lot of potential tax revenue left on the table, America is beginning to see online gaming open up quickly. Major moves are already being made early in February of 2024.

On February 1, the Mississippi House approved mobile sports betting. On the same day, the North Carolina State Lottery Commission voted unanimously to launch legalized online sports gambling in North Carolina beginning March 11 — the night before the ACC men’s basketball tournament. Also on the same day, the state of Georgia’s Senate panel advanced a bill to legalize online sports betting.

The dominoes on online sports betting regulation are falling in favor of supporters. It’s time for each state to adopt Colorado’s model of online problem gambling support to ensure that they are prepared for the incoming crisis.

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Problem Gambling News