NY Sports Betting Boom Brings Need For Increased Problem Gambling Resources

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NY sports betting

Gov. Kathy Hochul recently announced that the first full year of legal online NY sports betting generated $909 million in revenue for the state

That includes a record $709 million in online New York sports betting tax revenue, with 98% going to educational funding. 

New York’s sports betting success has set a new revenue standard for the industry, albeit with a nation-high 51% tax rate.

Responsible gaming bills for NY sports betting

A pair of responsible gambling bill amendments have been introduced in the Empire State. They follow a recent New York Times series on the US sports betting industry, as there have been increased legislative and regulatory efforts concerning responsible gaming. 

Bill S1550 would require all advertising for sports betting and gambling to include “warnings about potential harmful and addictive effects of gambling.” 

In addition, the NYS Gaming Commission would cooporate with the commissioner of the Office of Addiction Services and Support (OASAS) to “ensure that all advertisements for gaming activity state a problem gambling hotline number.” 

Bill A1056 would establish a problem gambling advisory council. 

It reads, in part: “The purpose of the council is to make findings and recommendations to the governor and the legislature on how to prevent and treat problem gambling in the state of New York.” 

NYCPG funding recommendations

Meanwhile, the NY Council on Problem Gambling (NYCPG) has called for increased funding and awareness. 

For fiscal year 2023 (April 1, 2022 to March 31, 2023), the NYCPG received $6 million to fund problem gambling education and treatment. 

Going forward, however, the NYCPG told LSR it would like 3% of all gaming tax revenues, to fund its programs (3% of $709 million would be around $21 million for online sports betting).

NYCPG assistant executive director Michelle Hadden said the current funding is “not adequate.” 

NY sports betting ups need for responsible gambling resources

GeoComply reported that 3.8 million unique user accounts have been created since the Jan. 8 launch of legal online NY sports betting. 

The National Center for Responsible Gaming (NCRG) estimates that approximately 1% of the adult population in the United States has a severe gambling problem.  That could put NY at about 40,000 OSB users who are impacted. 

“It’s a huge number just from those with an online sports betting account, so to not even have $20 million at minimum to address what’s happening and the people that are being effected is just completely inadequate,” Hadden told LSR

“I think we were pretty shocked last year at the amount that was lost, and the people that were impacted. We definitely saw an increase in calls to our program and people looking for help, including a lot of moms of college-age students.” 

NYCPG needs 24/7 phone services

Hadden reiterated that the NYCPG’s No. 1 goal is to have 24/7 phone assistance services available so problem gamblers can interact with a human on the other end if they call on a weeknight at 3 a.m. 

“We miss those calls because we’re only on from 9-5,” Hadden said. “But we need to be available via phone on holidays, late nights and weekends. Because what we find is when someone calls us and we’re not answering the phone, and it goes to voicemail, by the time we call them back the next morning the crisis is over. And so the ability to engage them in treatment or support services diminishes completely. 

“We have to be there to answer the call right away and assist them in that crisis moment, when they’re really ready to get help if they lost all their money or had another big loss.” 

A national helpline via the National Council on Problem Gambling (NCPG) is available 24/7 at 1-800-522-4700.

Public awareness on RG services key

Gaming is expanding in NY at a rapid pace, with up to three downstate casino licenses to be awarded soon. Sen. Joe Addabbo will reintroduce an iGaming bill during the upcoming state legislative session. 

Hadden said that with the expansion, public awareness is paramount. 

“I know that OASAS had a $1 million campaign this year that was more of a prevention campaign,” she said. “But for us in terms of making people aware of the services, we have about a $150,000 a year to do that, which is peanuts comparatively to what is happening for the advertising for online sports betting and casinos.” 

Only a quarter New Yorkers are aware

Hadden believes there should be closer to $10 million per year for public awareness campaigns. 

“We just did a public perception survey. And only 26% of New Yorkers know that we have problem gambling resource centers across the state to assist people,” Hadden said. “People can’t get here if they don’t know it exists. So that’s the public awareness ask, for addition funds for that as well. 

“I think we’re going to be seeing funds from the casinos downstate, and we’ll have an additional $750 per machine and table game. I think the issue is making sure that’s prioritized for public awareness campaigns, because the prioritization of that is not happening right now.” 

NY sports betting self-exclusion lists

In addition, Hadden wants those on self-exclusion lists to get direct contact from problem gambling organizations as desired. 

“What’s been shared with us is the industry, for the most part when it comes to users accounts, regulates itself,” Hadden said. “And I think that’s part of the problem. We don’t know for sure what’s happening in terms of people either gambling underage, being able to create when they shouldn’t gamble or going over their limit.

“I think there’s more oversight that we could be doing here to ensure safety. And we’re always recommending that player safeguards are a priority.” 

Direct contact would help mitigate risk

Hadden said there are more than 1,300 people who have voluntarily self-excluded this year on NYCPG’s self-exclusion list. 

“We’re recommending that we build into the self-exclusion process that folks get automatically connected to us for resources, assistance and help,” she said. “So it’s not just, here’s the business card. But we’re gonna call the council or call your local PGRC and get you connected. 

“What we’ve recommended is when they sign a self-exclusion form. Unless they opt out of being contacted by us, we would contact them. And it would be like a follow-up call. We want to let you know we have these resources available. And that could be everything from information or getting them connected to a therapist or clinician. But by self-excluding, they’re indicating that they have some sort of a problem.”

Addabbo focuses on RG with iGaming

Addabbo has said the key to any iGaming bill will be responsible gambling measures. That could include online casino not being available to New Yorkers 24/7, at least at the onset. 

The New York Times series heightened awareness of non-gaming legislators and regulators in other states. Ohio has been extremely strict in terms of regulating advertising violations. And Massachusetts will have some of the strictest advertising regulations in the US. 

“That’s huge to see that it’s being prioritized on that level,” Hadden said. “We need to be doing more for safeguards. And that there is enough for awareness and prevention. So that we can hopefully not see an increase beyond 1% of problem gambling.”