People have been playing and watching sports since the days of the ancient Greeks, if not earlier. Although watching sports doesn’t require a gambling component, the two tend to go hand-in-hand. You probably know from personal experience: For example, maybe you’re in your office’s fantasy football draft. Or, if you don’t personally get excited about this season’s roster, you likely have friends and family that do.
These days, technology has made betting on sports easier than ever. For quite some time, residents of New Jersey have not even needed to leave their home for illegal sports gambling in Atlantic City or Monmouth: They can simply place bets online or over the phone. As mobile options continue to multiply, people can gamble on sports wherever they have cell reception. Over the past few decades, online sports betting has exploded in popularity.
Why is this the case? Accessibility is one component, but so is the lack of rigorous legislation. In the United States, legislation about this kind of gambling remains murky at best. Unfortunately, due to the lack of strong regulation, companies can sometimes engage in predatory practices that target vulnerable demographics.
For example, many people enjoy participating in daily or season long fantasy sports contests. As this industry expands, companies are employing more aggressive marketing tactics and holding more frequent events. As a result, their customers sometimes run the risk of developing a disordered relationship with gambling. Unfortunately, a significant number of these customers report that they did not consider their fantasy sports hobby to be a form of gambling until it was too late. Although the pastime requires knowledgeable or otherwise “skilled” players, the elements of chance – as well as the wagering involved – still create the potential for disordered gambling.
As this form of gambling grows, the number of disordered gamblers rises accordingly. Young men appear to be especially susceptible to developing a disordered relationship with online sports betting.
So, what can be done? Although we have to wait for legislation around sports betting to become stricter, people concerned about disordered gambling can take steps in their everyday lives to keep themselves and their communities. For example, parents of kids and teens with access to smartphone apps should monitor their children’s usage for signs of a problem. (We offer more resources to learn about gaming responsibly on our website.)
The Council on Compulsive Gambling of New Jersey helps people struggling with any form of gambling. To reach out, call our confidential hotline at 1-800-GAMBLER for support, treatment, and hope.