Connecticut sports betting and online casino gambling debuted last fall. And as a result, state officials manning problem gaming hotlines say they’ve seen a considerable uptick in gamblers seeking help.
Diana Goode, the executive director for the Connecticut Council on Problem Gambling, says calls spiked 87 percent year-over-year in November — the first full month of legal online sports betting and iGaming. Speaking with the CT Mirror, Goode says NFL Sundays have been especially troublesome for new bettors.
Young people have been prone to gambling and wagering on sports far outside of what they can afford to lose, Goode said. The responsible gaming official detailed one college student who called to report gambling away nearly his entire bank account. His parents, who fund the account, went to the bank assuming their child’s nearly empty checking account was due to fraud.
People inside Connecticut have bet $325 million on sports since oddsmakers took the first retail sports bet, which was placed by Gov. Ned Lamont (D) on September 30. Online slots and table games have garnered an additional $2.3 billion worth of bets.
Goode revealed that the council’s annual budget is just $750,000, which includes staff salaries, program funding, and marketing initiatives. Goode says much more is needed to adequately combat the rise in gamblers seeking assistance.
Connecticut’s two sovereign nations — the Mohegan and Mashantucket Pequot tribes — share 25 percent of their gross gaming revenue from slot machines with the state. They additionally direct 13.75 percent of their sports betting income and 18 percent of their iGaming win with the state.
All of that tax money is earmarked for Connecticut’s General Fund. Goode says at least some portion should go to her agency.
Anyone who has watched an NFL game recently is well aware of the bombardment of sportsbook advertisements clogging commercial breaks. Goode says more funding would allow the Connecticut Council on Problem Gambling to run its own spots locally to counter the gambling ads.
Let’s make it a little bit more of a fair fight,” Goode said of DraftKings and FanDuel heavily advertising in the region. The two sportsbook and iGaming giants are respectively the third-party online gaming operators of Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun.
NFL Responsible Gaming Program
Though the Connecticut Council on Problem Gambling wasn’t able to afford an informative commercial during this past weekend’s NFL divisional round playoff games, the pro football league ran its own public awareness message.
During both Saturday and Sunday’s four nationally televised broadcasts on CBS, NBC, and FOX, the NFL ran responsible gaming messages during commercial breaks. The league partnered with the National Council on Problem Gambling (NCPG) last October to develop a betting education and awareness initiative.
The program — ResponsiblePlay.org — encourages new sports bettors to fully understand the odds and associated risks prior to making their first wager. The core message of the public service announcement is to encourage sports gamblers to know their limits.
Former NFL coach Steve Mariucci stars in the NFL PSA. The ex-49ers and Lions coach is seen writing on a chalkboard: “Set your limits, stick to them. Track your bets. Only bet what you can afford.”
The spot concludes with Mariucci telling viewers, “That’s the game plan. Stick to it.”
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