Sports betting, like all kinds of gambling, is best experienced as entertainment. However, some people unfortunately lose control and veer from entertainment into problem gambling and suffer serious negative consequences. Often their families suffer as a result as well. Problem gambling is also known as compulsive gambling and pathological gambling.
The prevalence rate of problem gambling in adults in the United States is somewhere between 2.2% and 2.6% percent of the population, while approximately 1% of the adult U.S population has a “severe” gambling problem, according to figures from the National Council on Problem Gambling, National Center for Responsible Gaming and the North American Foundation for Gambling Addiction. Statistically, younger people and young adults are impacted at a higher rate than other groups.
Regulated gaming — and pertinent here — regulated sports betting, is safer than gambling occurring in unchecked/unregulated markets. State regulators require licensed operators to devote certain resources to problem gambling and take greater measures to prevent customers from engaging in potentially damaging behavior. Of course, compulsive gambling manifests in any market, legal or otherwise.
The remainder of this page is a guide to problem gambling resources for those who believes (or know) they have a problem, or for a person who believes a friend or loved one may have a problem. The page includes help numbers, links to problem gambling forums, and articles with doctors and addiction experts, explaining behavior indicating a problem and treatments.
Problem gambling help and speed bumps
While rules and regulations vary from state to state, here are some measures that licensed sportsbooks in your area may offer to help prevent someone from developing an addiction, or stop it from progressing. You can inquire with the regulatory body that oversees sports wagering in your state about which of these options, or others, are available:
- Deposit limits: Limits the amount of money that a person may deposit into an account over a certain period, most likely over a calendar year.
- Wager limits: Limits the amount of money you may wager in one day or month or year.
- Session time limits: Limits the amount of time you may be logged into the sportsbook site in a single day.
- Account cool-off: This option allows you to block access to your account for a specified amount of time, giving you an opportunity to step away and perhaps seek help.
- Loss limits: Similar to wager limits, this option allows you to set a cap on potential losses over a fixed period of time.
- Self-exclusion: You elect to have the state prohibit you from engaging in any online or in-person gambling activities. The state will take down your name and information. The way it works in New Jersey is: For Internet gaming activities, the gaming board will distribute information filed through your player account or provided on your self-exclusion application for Internet gaming to each casino licensed Internet gaming permit holder.
Help numbers, resources and articles
For more information about problem gambling in your state, visit the National Council on Problem Gambling (NCPG)’s treatment/resource finder by state.
- Call the NCPG: 1-800-522-4700 (24-hour confidential national helpline)
- Text the NCPG: 1-800-522-4700 (24-hour confidential national text service)
- Chat with the NCPG: ncpgambling.org/chat (24-hour confidential national chat service)
- Gamblers Anonymous (www.gamblersanonymous.org)
Is a fellowship of men and women who share their experience, strength and hope with each other that they may solve their common problem and help others to recover from a gambling problem.
- Gam-Anon (www.gam-anon.org)
Is a self-help organization for the spouse, family or close friends of compulsive gamblers.
- GamTalk (www.gamtalk.org)
Is a 24/7 moderated online peer support forum.
- Reddit’s problem gambling forum
Responsible gaming articles on Sports Handle
- The South Oaks Gambling Screen: Take the Problem Gambling Test
- Gambling Rehabilitation ‘Legend’ on Sports Betting Expansion: More People ‘Will End Up Destroying Their Lives’
- An Addiction Doctor Explains Signs, Behavior and Treatment
- Sports Betting Addict Discusses Turmoil, Recovery
- Addiction Recovery Expert Talks Sports Betting Addiction Post-PASPA