Online Sports Betting Study Raises Concerns Over Problem Gambling

Posted on: February 7, 2024, 10:17h. 

Last updated on: February 7, 2024, 10:17h.

A new study reveals the concerns about online sports betting among Americans. Many believe it may have detrimental effects on society.

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A study found that online sports betting could deliver societal costs as more states legalize such gambling. Many bettors reported betting more than they probably should have. (Image: Getty)

The Siena College Research Institute and St. Bonaventure University’s Jandoli School of Communication released the “American Sports Fanship Survey: Part 2 — Online Sports Betting.” They surveyed over 3,000 US adults to evaluate their engagement with online sports gambling and their views on the industry.

The survey revealed several troubling statistics. For example, 65% believe online sports betting will create compulsive gamblers. Nearly four out of 10 bettors admitted they gambled more than they should have, and 18% said they lost money betting on sports that was meant to meet financial obligations.

Roughly 40% of bettors said they felt shame about their online betting. Additionally, over 50% chased a loss and nearly a quarter reported someone expressing worry about their gambling. 20% of bettors said they lied to someone about their gambling.

Sports Betting Alarms

Despite the worrying findings, the Sienna/St. Bonaventure survey found that just 9% of online sports bettors have contacted a problem gambling helpline or sought treatment through other sources. Over 60% feel the government should aggressively regulate online sports betting to protect customers from compulsive gambling.

The survey concluded that 39% of US adults have bet on sports, and 19% have an online sports betting account. The data showed that nearly 40% of young men aged 18 to 49 have an online betting account versus 20% of young women.

“With 75% of Americans saying they’ve seen ads for online sportsbooks, it’s not surprising that one in five have an account,” said Don Levy, the SCRI director. “Bettors say it’s fun, and a plurality of all Americans, 48-40%, agree that online sports betting is a great form of entertainment allowing fans to gamble responsibly.”

While it’s an enjoyable activity, Aaron Chimbel, dean of the Jandoli School of Communication, said that the survey’s findings need to be addressed by the industry, lawmakers, and regulators.

“While sports betting is popular among sports fans, particularly among young men, significant concerns remain as two-thirds worry that it creates fans with gambling problems,” said Chimbel. “In addition, nearly half of all Americans — including more than 40% of avid fans — think online betting will corrupt organized sports, and Americans overwhelmingly support stronger regulations to protect consumers.”

Counter Argument

The sports betting industry is facing backlash after “60 Minutes” recently aired a segment that suggested online sportsbooks are rigging the odds against their consumers. The segment was aired in the lead-up to the Super Bowl LVIII happening in Las Vegas for the first time this Sunday. 

The report focused on how online sportsbooks are utilizing AI technology to manipulate their odds in their favor and lure consumers to continue gambling.

Jon Wertheim, the host of the segment, alleged that the industry makes minimal efforts to help bettors exhibiting addictive behaviors to reduce or stop their gambling. Jeff Ifrah, a well-known gaming attorney, disputed these claims in an op-ed for SBC Americas, a gaming industry news outlet.

“The problem of vulnerable young adults making poor decisions and showing bad judgment is not new when it comes to gambling. Most adults responsibly enjoy gambling as a form of entertainment, but the history of those with problematic behaviors long predates legal online sports betting — whether it’s placing bets with a bookie, engaging in a late-night poker game, or risking an entire paycheck in a Las Vegas Strip casino,” Ifrah wrote.

“But now, legal and regulated online sports betting operators are willing and committed to protecting consumers. Failure to do so would be a multi-billion-dollar gamble for the online betting industry,” Ifrah explained. 

Bill Miller, President of the American Gaming Association, told “60 Minutes” that the surge in calls to problem gambling hotlines is evidence that the industry is actively working to detect and assist consumers who have developed gambling problems.

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