That 2016 NCPG study found an estimated 2.2 percent of Missouri adults are believed to manifest a gambling problem in Missouri. The same percentage was estimated for Illinois, which has since legalized sports gambling. It’s safe to bet on these percentages increasing, especially if more is not done to prevent and treat problem gambling.
A national survey conducted by the NCPG in 2021 showed the risk factors for problem gambling have doubled over the past three years, a trend influenced by both the COVID-19 pandemic and the uptick in sports betting advancements. The anecdotal evidence has a rather specific face. Sports bettors are at a higher risk to develop problem gambling tendencies. Young, male sports bettors, specifically. Especially ones who participate in daily fantasy sports.
Whyte wants parents to realize their own gambling habits can influence their children, and that talking about this topic should be started sooner rather than later. Research shows many people with severe gambling problems started gambling for money even before they became teenagers. (Specific tips and resources are available at ResponsiblePlay.org.)
“We are concerned there is a new generation of gamblers being groomed,” Whyte said. “And we are concerned they are bringing some pretty high risk into this betting.”
Missouri teams pushing for the legalization of sports gambling should embrace the opportunity to help strengthen what Whyte calls the safety net. How about an across-the-board commitment to earmark a healthy percentage of sports-betting-related revenue for programs designed to prevent and treat gambling problems? Lip service is not enough.