Blumenthal calls out sportsbooks for targeting problem gamblers

Sen. Richard Blumenthal
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U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal is continuing his scrutiny of American sports betting by demanding that sportsbooks stop what he describes as the targeting of problem gamblers.

In a post published on his website, Blumenthal said he has written to eight major sports betting companies — DraftKings, FanDuel, MGMBet, ESPNBet, Fanatics, Caesars, BetFred, and Bet365 — to demand they stop leveraging data to target problem gamblers with promotions and ads.

Blumenthal has urged companies to make it easier for problem gamblers to remove themselves from online betting platforms.

The timing of his request is not coincidental, with the Democrat rep for Connecticut noting that March Madness is one of the busiest sports betting times of the year. Blumenthal cited the American Gaming Association figures that projected that Americans will wager $2.72 billion on NCAA men’s and women’s college basketball in the next two weeks through legal avenues, around 2.2% of the total handle wagered legally in 2023.

In a speech given on Monday, Blumenthal suggested sportsbooks are “exploiting, targeting, and taking advantage of vulnerable problem gamblers” by enticing that group in particular to wager more, via the collection and use of real-time data.

His letter sent to sportsbooks urges the companies to “leverage the data you collect to identify problem gamblers and proactively provide these individuals with services… to help them access treatment” as well as providing transparent and easily accessible information on self-exclusion and ending any marketing that encourages problem gamblers to continue playing.

Blumenthal’s letter to sportsbooks also requested answers by April 8 to a set of 15 questions focused primarily on how the sportsbooks protect their users and how they collect and use data.

Blumenthal’s comments piggyback on his GRIT legislation

This week’s letter to sportsbooks is the latest step in Blumenthal’s ongoing quest to hold sports betting companies to account in the U.S. market.

Last year, the Senator wrote to 66 academic institutions to warn against the rise of sports betting adverts on college campuses, citing the impact of gambling addictions on young people. 

In January of this year, he introduced the Gambling Addiction Recovery, Investment, and Treatment (GRIT) Act which allocates federal funds to help prevent, treat, and study gambling addiction in the U.S.

The senator said on Monday that the GRIT Act would devote about half of the revenue from the federal excise tax on gambling and suggested that amount “would produce millions of dollars for treatment, research, and other measures to help people who are addicted” to gambling.