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Gambling addiction hotline says call volume has increased and callers are younger as U.S. gaming booms

The U.S. is experiencing an online sports betting boom as several states legalize it, and experts say gambling hotlines are being hit by rising call volumes.

The number of calls to helplines in various states has reportedly increased, the situation is more dire, and the callers are younger than before, especially men in their 20s and 30s.

NBC News spoke with Keith Whyte, executive director of the National Council on Problem Gambling: “We believe that since 2018, the incidence and severity of problem gambling has increased across the United States.

“We have good reason to believe that the growth of online sports betting is a major factor in the increase in problem gambling.” The state commission also operates the 1-800-GAMBLER gambling hotline.

In 2018, the Supreme Court opened the door for states to legalize sports betting for the first time, having previously been banned. Since then, 38 states have legalized sports betting, with an additional five states actively enacting legislation to make it a reality.

White detailed how the gambling world has changed since that year: “Prior to 2018, there were no sports betting ads during events.

“Now, not only can you see sportsbook ads filled with events, you can even bet on the game right in front of you.”

He went on to say further action is needed: “Last year, the federal government collected more than $8 billion in gambling taxes. However, they did not reinvest a cent of these windfall profits back into the health system.”

Some of the biggest gaming operators have joined forces

As more states allow online sports betting, some of the industry’s most prominent operators made announcements in early April. They said they would work together to form the Responsible Online Gambling Association (ROGA) and pledged more than $20 million in funding to the initiative.

New partners include FanDuel, DraftKings, BetMGM, Penn Entertainment, Fanatics Betting & Gaming, Hard Rock Digital and bet365. All of this will work together to promote evidence-based responsible gambling best practices and share information to protect customers.

Featured Image: Photo by Ryan on Unsplash

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