Insidious: States Profiting Mightily Off Sports Gambling Addiction

March 24th, 2023 1:03 PM

NBC report on March Madness sports betting Have you seen the sports betting ads on television? Jamie Foxx, Kevin Hart, Drew Brees, the Manning brothers and others involved in gambling ad campaigns help lure people into downward spirals through problem gambling. The house always wins, and it’s a house of cards that’s collapsing on many of the people taking the bait. Since the legalization of sports betting in 36 states, calls to gambling help lines are soaring. 

Following the 2018 U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Murphy v. National Collegiate Athletic Association Supreme Court ruling, several states legalized sports betting. It’s been a windfall netting billions of dollars for them. But at what cost? 

Roundhill Investments reported that Americans sunk in excess of $93 billion in legal bets last year. New York’s greedy government raked in $209 million, and New Jersey collected $161 million. It’s easy for people to blow wads of money that could be better spent on their family, on utilities and more, and it’s just a cell phone call away from plunging obsessive gamblers into deep, dark places. 

Newsweek magazine reports:  

“In 2021 (the most recent year for which data is available), calls to the helpline run by the National Council on Problem Gambling, a gaming industry-supported group, rose 43 percent, while texts increased 59 percent and chats jumped 84 percent.” 

Helpline calls increased by a staggering 276 percent in Massachusetts in 2020. Ohio joined the list of states reaping ill-gotten gains this year, and its hotline for problem gamblers tripled in the first month. Virginia’s hotline calls exploded to a 387-percent increase, Illinois’ to 425 percent. 

There’s more doom and gloom on gambling, too, according to Newsweek. The United Kingdom has had 400 suicides a year linked to gambling, and, tragically, some addicts are as young as 11. As if this isn’t shocking enough, one expert says we won’t see the full extent of gambling’s toll yet for years to come. 

Greedy states are profiting mightily off the backs of people who can’t resist the urge to blow their money on a legal vice. It’s nuts. The NCAA Tournament is the most wagered on sports event in America, too. Talk about March madness! 

Keith Whyte, who serves as executive director of the National Council on Problem Gambling, said young men are targeted because they are the most susceptible to “ubiquitous advertising. We believe that the risks for gambling addiction overall have grown 30 percent from 2018 to 2021, with the risk concentrated among young males 18 to 24 who are sports bettors." 

Pamela Brenner-Davis, team leader of the New York Council on Problem Gambling, said “Young people, particularly those under the age of 25, still have underdeveloped brains that make them predisposed to addiction, particularly to gambling addiction.” 

Gambling addiction increases depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts, embezzling from employers, job loss and relational problems. It’s a vicious cycle that many people cannot escape.  

The American Psychiatric Association's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual lists "gambling disorder" in the same category as heroin and opioid addictions. That’s deeply disturbing. 

Here’s the bottom line. The governments allowing this insanity are scraping the bottom of the moral barrel. They take billions of dollars out of the economy, profit off the back of gambling addicts and try to assuage their guilt by offering band-aid solutions (after the damage is done). It’s a hideous blight upon society.