Study: Connecticut problem gambling declines over past three decades

Connecticut Study
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A first-of-its-kind study in Connecticut has examined the impact of regulated gambling.

Gemini Research, in partnership with the Connecticut Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services, has released a “Impacts of Legalized Gambling in Connecticut” study, which evaluates how the expansion of commercialized gaming affects state residents.

Connecticut first entered the commercialized gaming industry in 1939 with the authorization of bingo games and has since expanded to other verticals including a state lottery, tribal casinos, keno, and sports betting, which launched in the state in 2021.

The study, which surveyed more than 8,000 Connecticut adults, found that 69% of participants had taken part in some form of gambling in the past year. Connecticut has seen residents embrace the popularity of sports betting with 1 in 10 adults wagering on professional sports, including the NFL, NHL, NBA, MLB, horse racing and esports.

Those adults placed bets with Connecticut online sports betting operators at a 67.5% rate, while wagering at the state’s brick-and-mortar sportsbooks closed at a 15.5% rate.

Football emerged as the top sport for Connecticut bettors taking in 76% of wagers.

The popularity of casino gaming and sports betting in Connecticut has caused concern for leaders in responsible gambling. However, the state has reported progress in the rate of residents with a gambling problem. The study determined that 1.8% of state residents suffer from gambling-related issues, down from a roughly 3.2% rate reported in 1991.

A 2009 study on gambling in Connecticut, also found no increase in problem gambling.

“Considering that legal gambling availability has continued to increase both in Connecticut and North America more generally beyond the early 2000s, the present fairly low rate of problem gambling illustrates that populations tend to adapt to the presence of legalized gambling over time,” said study authors, who included Gemini President Rachel Volberg.

New face in Connecticut sports betting market

In December 2023, Fanatics Sportsbook launched operations in the Constitution State.

Fanatics, which offers both retail and online wagering in Connecticut, gained market access by replacing Rush Street Interactive (RSI), which recently exited the state.

Despite expanding to a new market, Fanatics is struggling to drive profits from its retail sportsbook at the XL Center in Hartford. The facility, which previously featured RSI operations, could lose up to $700,000 by the end of June, per the state’s Lottery Corp.