Gambling Addiction Concerns Unaddressed As Sports Betting Expansion Continues – Forbes

Gambling Addiction Concerns Unaddressed As Sports Betting Expansion Continues – Forbes

GLASGOW, SCOTLAND- OCTOBER 19: Slot machines are seen in an amusement arcade following the … [+] announcement of the newly proposed gambling bill which will effect casinos and amusement arcades across the UK, October 19, 2004 in Glasgow, Scotland. The new law if approved by the government will allow casinos with over 1,250 slot machines unlimted jackpots, currently Britain has 126 casinos with slot machine winnings being limited to GBP2,000. (Photo by Christopher Furlong /Getty Images) *** Local Caption ***

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It wasn’t long ago when sports gambling discussions were limited to Saturday morning sports talk radio shows. My, how times have changed. Turn on your local sports radio station, segue over to ESPN or hop on an internet discussion forum and you’ll find these mediums are now saturated with sports gambling information. Though wagering on sports certainly provides an opportunity to make some quick cash, it can also spur a debilitating addiction if left unchecked.

With online sports betting officially making its debut in New York over the weekend, concerns continue to mount about the potential societal dangers of the industry. While this billion dollar industry has many legislators seeing dollar signs, others feel that stricter measures must be put into place to help detect, limit, and prevent the spread of problem gambling.

Sports Gambling has Shifted From Las Vegas to Smartphones

Less than half a decade ago, sports gambling was limited to the confines of Las Vegas. This past weekend, New York residents were legally empowered to gamble on sports from their smartphones. 

Though sports wagering is not legal throughout the entirety of the United States, it probably won’t be long until the vast majority of states open brick-and-mortar sportsbooks as well as digital sportsbooks accessible through smartphones. Venture through any major American city and you’ll find sports gambling billboards, banners, commercials, and other ads encouraging sports fans to roll the dice on moneylines, point spreads, over/unders, and teasers.

Why the Sudden Change?

As Bob Dylan once wrote, “The times, they are a changin’.” These lyrics certainly ring true in the context of sports gambling in contemporary society. The evolution of America’s sports gambling industry stems back to the ’18 Supreme Court decision to strike down the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act, setting the stage for in-person and online sports gambling. Though online sports wagering is limited to 21 states at the moment, that figure will undoubtedly change in the future. Revenue from sports gambling soared nearly 70% between ’19 and ’20 alone. 

Fast forward to the initial financial quarter of ’21 and sprots gambling revenue jumped nearly 300%. The country’s aggregate gambling revenue will hit an incredible $44 billion in ’22. This figure nearly equates to that of the cumulative total of music, books and movies.

What About the Societal Cost?

The widespread legalization of sports gambling will undoubtedly create hundreds of thousands or even millions of gambling addicts, many of whom lose their homes, vehicles, families and dignity. However, free and open societies are characterized by unrestrained liberties including financial freedom in the context of gambling.

Problem gambling has been …….