March is recognized as National Problem Gambling Awareness Month, and as State Senator Joseph P. Addabbo, Jr., Chair of the Senate Racing, Gaming and Wagering Committee, is working towards legalizing mobile sports betting in New York, he wants to highlight the importance of identifying and helping those who may suffer from problem gambling.
Issues with problem gambling do not just affect the individual placing the bets. It could potentially affect their financial situation, which could cause problems at home, it can affect their job status or cause them to be fired, or it can lead to higher risk of domestic violence as well as suicide.
New Yorkers are currently placing wagers on sports either in-person at upstate casinos, or illegally through their bookies, online through illegal offshore websites or taking the quick trip to New Jersey and doing it with a mobile device. These markets, especially the illegal market, have no safeguards in place to help New Yorkers, who may be suffering from problem gambling addiction.
“Problem Gambling Awareness Month serves as a reminder that gambling addiction is real and requires effective resources to educate, support and treat individuals,” Addabbo said. “As I continue to work on gaming issues for our state, I will make sure that problem-gambling programs are improved, in order to assist those who already have problem gaming issues, help identify the signs of problem gaming, and ways to prevent problem gambling from getting out of control.”
Addabbo’s bill to legalize mobile sports betting in the state (S.1183) has measures built into the language that will help identify and provide assistance for both instances of where an individual has a gambling addiction and to address pre-addiction awareness.
Included in Addabbo’s bill is:
- New funding for problem gaming programs from 5% of sports wagering tax revenue dedicated to problem gaming education and treatment;
- Having brick-and-mortar gaming sites train employees to spot warning signs of problem gaming and how to help patrons with symptoms of gaming addiction;
- The creation of procedures that allow customers to exclude themselves from gaming and limit their wagers when the customer raises the flag on their own betting habits;
- Requiring sportsbook operators freeze account and send a message to any customer when they have $2,500 in lifetime deposits, providing them with information about problem gaming resources;
- Having every sportsbook inform customers about assistance for compulsive play, maintain easy-to-find gaming assistance resources;
- Preventing advertisements to minors;
- Having sportsbooks use know-your-customer technology to ensure minors do not place bets; and
- Requiring sportsbooks to offer parental controls to prevent minors from using their platform.
“Problem Gambling Awareness Month is a time to focus on this important issue and to remember that each time we face an increase in gambling opportunities we need expanded services statewide,” said New York Council on Problem Gambling Executive Director, Jim Maney. “We cannot just focus on education but must also focus on developing policies and environmental efforts that minimize youth exposure to advertising and gambling access. We need treatment service funds adequate enough to ensure that no family who has already been financially devastated by this disorder has to pay for services.”
“Gaming and betting on sports can be a fun pastime and can even lead to some financial gains when done responsibly, but when it becomes a problem and begins to affect a bettor’s lives, it has the potential to lead to some unintended negative consequences,” said Addabbo. “I believe that New York should lead the way on sports betting and I will continue my commitment to manage gaming responsibly.”