Timothy L. O’Brien Bloomberg News
Ben Affleck, the avid movie star and gamer who has battled alcohol addiction, is one of the sports game’s most visible pitchmen. He is the focus of a TV commercial for the WynnBET mobile betting app. “We all want to win. Let’s win together! exclaims Affleck.
Aaron Paul, the actor who only played a drug addict on “Breaking Bad,” is a spokesperson for Bet365, which is offering newcomers a $ 500 credit to join.
Call me old-fashioned, but as sports betting experiences a pandemic-fueled expansion across the country, shouldn’t we be more worried about the possibility of an increase in gambling disorders? And isn’t it shocking that people who should know better are pushing this with enthusiasm?
A reminder: for most players, betting is a hobby. Based on historical data, only about 1% of adults in the United States have a serious problem such as problem gambling. About 2% to 3% of adults have less serious problems; they are not drug addicts, but gambling causes them financial and social distress. Most people bet for fun.
The problem is, these small percentages represent 6 to 8 million people. And most academic and clinical studies of gambling disorders in the United States were undertaken when legal sports gambling was restricted to Nevada and backroom betting with bookies was not digital. The boom in sports gaming that began three years ago after the United States Supreme Court overturned Nevada’s monopoly, along with the accessibility offered by mobile devices and apps, means that a much larger share important and younger Americans is now under threat. It will take time for researchers to become familiar with today’s world of sports betting and the problems that can be encountered on individuals and communities.