More opportunities: Does mobile sports betting cause gambling addiction among young people?

STATEN ISLAND, NY Access to legal mobile sports betting is fueling gambling addiction among a booming youth population, warn members of the Staten Islands recovering gambling community.

They say a major problem is looming, despite New York state’s regulations and controls aimed at promoting responsible play and supporting gambling addiction.

And some Staten Island elected officials of both parties are demanding a closer look at the problems caused by the legalization of mobile gaming in January 2022, and reassess state priorities.

Members of Gamblers Anonymous (GA), an international organization for problem gamblers, say they have recently seen major changes in the demographics of support groups: Young people old people lose more money than ever.

It’s about the possibility of betting on poker games and horse racing long before casino gambling, says Mark B., a GA member since 1972, whose life was made difficult by betting on poker games and horse racing long before casino gambling. access, opportunity, and some of the characteristics that lead to addiction. It’s even legal in New York and New Jersey. Forms of gambling have changed, but the problems today are more serious still. People have more opportunities, legality removes discrimination.

Telephone gambling began as an innocent fun for a group of young people who grew up in a cloud of cell phone and video game distractions. Gambling is just another distraction for them,’ another recovering gambler said, emphasizing that the distraction can quickly turn dark and draw them in, due to the possibility of its 24 hours a day.

Known as a latent addiction, because there are no blood tests or other physical signs, gambling addiction often only appears after life-changing consequences, such as broken relationships, Insurmountable debt and even criminal activity stemming from desperation and dishonesty are necessary to fuel gambling addiction.

As of January 7, 2023, the day before the first anniversary of legal mobile sports betting for those 21 and older in New York state, more than 3.8 million unique player accounts has been created on gaming apps like FanDuel, DraftKings and Caesars Sportsbook, with people making more than 1.2 billion transactions, according to GeoComply, a software company that is licensed by nine legitimate sports phone apps in the state. used by states to ensure geographic location requirements.


The burgeoning new industry, regulated by the New York State Gaming Commission, was heavily taxed. According to Governor Kathy Hochul’s office and a statement from New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli, the results are very profitable for New York state and 95% of them are used for educational purposes.

However, DiNapoli this month called on the State Gaming Commission and the Office of Addiction Supports and Services (OASAS) to take a closer look at problem gambling caused by a new era in which forms of The new gambling is no longer tied to a destination.

The commission reports an increase in calls to its HOPEline, from 1,899 calls in 2001 to 2,402 calls in 2022. From January to August 2023, the HOPEline received 1,357 calls call.

And while some see the increase as a sign of a growing problem, Gaming Commission Executive Director Robert Williams said it signifies the commission’s level of success. We are proud to have made at least an effort to bring that HOPEline to the market so that people can contact it if they feel the need,’ he said at a press conference held in March.

The commission played a role in the increase in HOPEline calls, he said, because every regulated sports betting advertisement must include problem gambling messaging and a HOPEline number, Williams testified. before the New York Senate and Assembly in a January 2023 joint public hearing on the impact of mobile sports betting in the state.


The $16 billion in mobile sports betting in its first year generated more than $709 million in tax revenue. Of that, $6 million is earmarked for gambling education and treatment and $5 million will be for underserved youth sports programs. According to an announcement earlier this year from Hochul, the remaining money will go to educational aid.

However, funding for gambling education needs to increase if the state wants to ride the wave of addiction it is heading towards, Mark B.

He said the addiction trend is showing up mostly among people in their early 20s and 30s, attracted to game apps that entice them with attractive logos, attractive ads and sometimes credits. $200, $300 or even $500 if they are placing their first bet. The ability to bet on more than 20 sports only adds to the appeal, he said.

When I came to GA, I was 28 years old and young,” said Bruce W., a long-time recovered gambler who has supported problem gamblers for decades at local GA meetings. best in the room. Thanks to the ability of people to bet using their smartphones, gambling has increased exponentially across the country. In meetings in the city (New York), 60 to 70 percent of attendees are in their 20s and 30s.

And those are just people seeking treatment for their addiction, he said.


Several Staten Islands officials, when contacted by the Advance/, expressed concern about the possible threat that the new ease of gambling could pose to young people.

Rep. Sam Pirozzolo (R-Mid-Island) criticized states’ reliance on citizen addiction to generate revenue.

It is a confirmation of the failure of our leaders to guide our state responsibly,’ Pirozzolo said.

Congressman Michael Tannousis (R-East Shore/Brooklyn) and New York State Assembly Assistant Majority Leader Charles Fall (D-North Shore) also made similar criticisms.

While the revenue generated is significant, we have to ask ourselves what is the cost?’, Fall said. If our future generations are at risk then we must reassess our priorities.

Tannousis said that the increasing number of problem gamblers due to online gambling is a serious concern for our community, especially for the youth. Yet, as always, our state legislature rushed through legislation they believed would bring significant capital to our state without putting up barriers to prevent the consequences unpredictable,’ he said.


Mark B. said the gambling education grant is a good start, but it’s not nearly enough considering the income the state is receiving, noting that $6 million is just a portion small of the $16 billion bet.

Placing casino or sports bets has never been easier, he said. And these days, bets can be placed on more than just the match score. They can be set throughout the match, based on player performance or mid-match scores. This can cause gamblers to continue betting throughout the game to make up for losses from previous plays.

All they have to do, he said, is press a button, keep pressing a button, and in one game you can lose thousands of dollars. When you don’t touch money… it doesn’t seem real.

That was the case for Derek M., a 25-year-old member of GA, who said he was more than $100,000 in debt due to gambling in his 20s and had no significant source of income.

At age 23, he spent 18 hours a day placing multiple bets of up to $1,000 at a time on his phone before his family took him to his first GA meeting. He said he borrowed from friends and family and maxed out multiple credit cards to fuel his habit, causing him to lose friends and destroy relationships in the process.

The legality of mobile gaming, he says, attracts a broader, more accepted customer base than the one he started with in college, betting with bookies and uses a football pick board, which only allows him to pick the winner of the week’s football matches.


He said that now it’s something that’s being talked about publicly. It’s normal and everyone should do it. He said phone applications make it easier for young people to gamble privately because today people often spend hours a day on mobile phones.

“I could sit on the couch, watch a movie and lose $60,000 and no one would know,” he said.

According to Mark B., numbers are growing at the five live GA meetings held weekly on Staten Island, as they always do when new gambling opportunities arise.

But now, he said, most of the new people are young sports bettors.

New York State Gaming Commission requires nine legal mobile app operators to have programs to prevent underage gambling, impose spending limits and share information about gambling risks gambling as well as signs of problem gambling, Williams testified in January.

However, restrictions such as gambling limits can be easily circumvented, gamblers said, by creating fake accounts under various names. It is not uncommon for gamblers to have multiple accounts on each legal gaming app. It is not difficult for minors to gamble in the same way, they said, urging parents to closely monitor what their children are doing on their phones.

Gaming app operators are also required to place messages supporting problem gambling, with specific size requirements, on all ads.

In New York state, OASAS, the agency responsible for providing gambling addiction education and support, continues to work with the New York State Attorney on Gambling and the state commission to monitor gambling trends silver and expand services, a spokesman said. The spokesperson said the programs can respond quickly to any increased service needs.


Regional Problem Gambling Resource Centers, including the University of Richmond Medical Center Gambling Resource Center and the South Beach Addiction Treatment Center, are funded by OASAS.

The New York State HOPEline, 877-846-7369, is available 24/7, 365 days a year and will connect anyone who needs support services in their community.

To contact the Gamblers Anonymous helpline, call 855-222-5542. To contact Gam-Anon, a support group for families and friends of problem gamblers, call 718-352-1671.

The Gamblers Anonymous and Gam-Anon open meeting will be held on Saturday, October 14, at 7pm in Helmsley Hall, across from St. Andrew, 4 Arthur Kill Rd., Richmond. This event is for anyone who thinks they or someone they care about may be addicted to gambling. No registration required. Doors open at 6:15 pm

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