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What Legal Sports Betting Nationwide Could Mean for Disordered Gamblers

At the Council on Compulsive Gambling of New Jersey (CCGNJ), we pay close attention to developments that affect how, when, and where America gambles. At the moment, the country may be in a position to make some monumental choices concerning legalized sports betting across the country.

New legislation concerning this form of gambling could have a major impact on everyone from twenty-somethings betting on sports online to seniors gambling at Atlantic City racetracks. Depending upon its language and implementation, this legislation could either increase or decrease the rate of disordered gambling.

Recent Developments & Potential Consequences

In January, the NBA testified in front of New York’s State Senate, officially requesting legislation that could eventually lead to legal sports betting nationwide. Additionally, the Supreme Court is poised to make a decision on a New Jersey-based case that could potentially allow legal sports betting at casinos and racetracks on a state-by-state basis.

Whether or not such legislation gets passed, the NBA’s decision to broadcast their position on legalized gambling sets a precedent for other sports leagues in the country. This move could lead to multiple major sports organizations lobbying for favorable sports betting legislation in the near future.

During his testimony, Dan Spillane – an attorney representing the NBA – stated that the NBA would want to make gambling as accessible as possible. In the NBA’s vision, fans would be able to wager from kiosks and smartphones, not just racetracks and casinos.

To some extent, we already know the consequences this kind of accessibility can have due to the prevalence of daily fantasy sports betting. The ease of making wagers on smartphones or home computers has led to an increased rate of disordered gambling in some populations, especially young men.

However, this legislation may also give lawmakers and sports organizations an opportunity to implement rules and regulations that can help protect gamblers and prevent disordered behavior. As Spillane said in his testimony, the NBA’s goal is to give “sports fans a safe and legal way to wager on sporting events while protecting the integrity of the underlying competitions.” If legislators and sports leagues collaborate with mental health professionals familiar with disordered gambling, they may use this opportunity to spread awareness of disordered gambling and promote safe wagering.

Our Take

The CCGNJ is neither for nor against gambling: We believe that legal gambling can be a safe and enjoyable activity for many people. However, by establishing reasonable regulations, proper legislation can help encourage a healthy relationship with the pastime while decreasing the rate of disordered gambling.

The CCGNJ offers many resources to help support those trying to recover from disordered gambling. For help with issues like disordered gambling and alcohol use disorder (sometimes called “alcohol addiction”) in Freehold and throughout the rest of New Jersey, call our confidential, 24/7 hotline, 800-GAMBLER.