Gambling

Online Sports Betting Study Raises Problem Gambling Concerns

Posted on: February 7, 2024, 10:17h. 

Last updated on: February 7, 2024, 08:30h.

A new online sports betting study presents several alarms for the gaming industry, as many Americans believe such gambling is a bad bet for society.

online sports betting study sportsbook
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 this week released their “American Sports Fanship Survey: Part 2 — Online Sports Betting.” Researchers polled more than 3,000 U.S. adults to gauge their participation in online sports gambling and their opinions on the industry.

The poll reported numerous alarming data points, including that 65% of respondents believe online sports betting will create compulsive gamblers. Nearly four in 10 bettors said they wagered more than they should have, and 18% said they lost money betting on sports meant to meet financial obligations.

About four in 10 bettors said they’ve felt shame about their online wagering. More than half of bettors chased a loss — the act of doubling the next wager to win back the last one lost. Almost a quarter of bettors said someone expressed worry about their betting, and 20% said they lied to someone about their gambling.

Sports Betting Alarms

Despite the worrying findings, the Sienna/St. Bonaventure poll said just 9% of online sports bettors have called a problem gambling helpline or sought treatment through other resources. Over six in 10 said the federal government “should aggressively regulate online sports betting to specifically protect customers from compulsive gambling.”

The poll concluded that 39% of U.S. adults have bet on sports, and 19% have an online sports betting account. Almost 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.”

Though it’s entertaining, Aaron Chimbel, dean of the Jandoli School of Communication, said the industry, lawmakers, and regulators must address the survey findings.

“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 television’s 60 Minutes recently ran a piece highlighting how online sportsbooks are stacking the odds against their consumers. The attack came ahead of this Sunday’s Super Bowl LVIII, being played in Las Vegas for the first time.

The television news magazine focused on how online sportsbooks have adopted AI technology to power their odds in their favor and entice consumers to keep playing.

The report, hosted by Jon Wertheim, alleged the industry does little to prevent bettors expressing addiction habits to slow or stop their wagering. Jeff Ifrah, a prominent gaming attorney, disputed those claims in an op-ed for SBC Americas, a gaming industry news outlet.

The issue of vulnerable young adults making poor choices and exhibiting bad judgment is not a new one when it comes to gambling. While the vast majority of adults responsibly enjoy gambling as a form of entertainment, the history of those with problematic behaviors long pre-dates legal online sports betting — whether it’s placing bets on the big game with a bookie, an out-of-control late-night poker game in the basement, or putting an entire paycheck on black in a Las Vegas Strip casino,” Ifrah wrote.

“The difference now is that legal and regulated online sports betting operators are willing and motivated to protect consumers. To not do so would be a multi-billion-dollar gamble for the online betting industry,” Ifrah explained.

American Gaming Association President Bill Miller told 60 Minutes that the increase in calls to problem gambling hotlines is because the industry is actively working to detect and assist consumers who have developed gaming problems.


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