Amongst the growing sports wagering scene in the US, the necessity to ensure sufficient initiatives and policies in place for individuals that face, or could be facing, addiction is crucial.

One such organisation taking up this mantle is the National council on Problem Gambling, whose Executive Director Keith Whyte addressed why its role is becoming increasingly crucial: “Our role is critical as we are the only organisation who advocates for programs to help prevent and treat gambling addiction.  

“The expansion of gambling is often accompanied by increases in gambling problems. With almost 50 years of experience in problem gambling and responsible gambling, a stance of neutrality and an extensive network of members and partners across all sectors of the gaming industry as well as state and tribal government, regulators, counsellors, researchers and recovering gamblers, we are the best source of objective, high quality information and resources on these issues.”

While it may be a lot of money in the UK, the US is much further behind”

With there said to be approximately two million Americans with gambling problems, Whyte went on to emphasise how crucial it is to have the necessary time, effort and money from all areas of the industry, particularly in the face of changes and evolution in products and technology:

“While it may be a lot of money in the UK, the US is much further behind,” he admitted. “We found a total spend of $73 million on all public problem gambling services in 2016.  

“That is about 23 cents per capita in 2016. So it is a very shaky foundation to build on, particularly in the 20 per cent of states without any public funding whatsoever.  

“Which makes the active participation of government, regulators, operators and vendors with NCPG even more important. And of course there is no federal funding for problem gambling in the US, so the NCPG relies on these partnerships and donations to provide even a minimum safety net across the entire country.”

This Frankenstein’s monster of advertising, access and action is unprecedented in America”

Investigating the key measures and policies that need to be in-place for each region before it even commences with the activity of sports wagering, Whyte and the NCPG articulated five principles that it believes are the “absolute minimum for states”.

As part of ‘Post-PASPA: An Examination of Sports Betting in America’, delivered before the House Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security and Investigations, Whyte said: “We believe the expansion of legalised sports gambling in the United States will likely increase gambling participation and problems unless the following steps are taken to minimise harm.

  1. Dedicate at least one percent of revenue to prevent and treat gambling addiction.
  2. Require sports betting operators to implement responsible gaming programs.
  3. Assign a regulatory agency to enforce responsible gambling and other regulations.
  4. Conduct surveys of the prevalence of gambling addiction prior to expansion and at regular periods thereafter to support evidence-based, data-driven responsive measures.
  5. Establish a consistent minimum age for sports gambling and related fantasy games.

Everyone who profits from sports betting bears responsibility for gambling problems”

“We are concerned about the collision of three trends – vast increases in gambling advertising, especially exhortations to gamble during the game; advances in technology including mobile phone gambling, and a virtually unlimited menu of betting opportunities far beyond game outcome or even player performance,” Whyte explained.

“This Frankenstein’s monster of advertising, access and action is unprecedented in America, and indeed anywhere else in the world. As a result it is likely that most Americans will soon be bombarded by marketing urging them to bet instantly from their phone, on every action by every player on every play in every game in every sport.

“Everyone who profits from sports betting bears responsibility for gambling problems. Dedicating a portion of profits from gambling to mitigate gambling harm is an ethical imperative and an economic necessity.

“The only way to maximise benefits from sports betting is to minimise problem gambling harm. Sports betting should not be allowed in a state without public funding for problem gambling services. Yet 20 per cent of states still do not have such funding.

“There will be a small but significant portion of gamblers who experience negative consequences as a result of sports betting. Together with all stakeholders who will profit from sports betting our challenge is to implement measures to reduce that harm as much as possible even as sports gambling expands across the nation.”

Whyte is set to participate in this year’s inaugural Betting on Sports America conference, being held at the Meadowlands Expo Center, on a panel titled ‘Tackling problem gambling – what is effective?’ For more information click here.