Nash Trumbly reporter
No matter where you are in Kansas, chances are you have seen ads for online sports betting. Whether on TV or on online platforms like Tik Tok and YouTube, platforms such as DraftKings and FanDuel have cornered the betting market. With an estimated 16 billion dollars bet on this year’s super bowl by over 50 million Americans, the online sports betting industry is growing at a rapid rate and igniting concerns amongst addiction experts.
Until a few years ago, online sports betting platforms like these were illegal in the U.S. under federal law. The PASPA act, enacted in 1992, stated that bets could only be legally placed in Nevada, and cited dangers in addiction and potential money laundering schemes. But in 2018, the supreme court’s ruling on Murphy v. NCAA struck down the law and allowed states to make their own laws regarding the industry. Since then, 33 states and our nation’s capital have legalized sports betting, and the online betting industry reaped over 4.3 billion in revenue in 2021.
As the market continues to reach its highest peaks yet, addiction experts are concerned about the effect it can have. Professor Lia Nower, the director of the Center for Gambling Studies at Rutgers University, comments on the newfound phenomenon to The Hill.
“If I’m drunk or high, at some point my family is going to figure it out. With gambling, I can be sitting with my kids, watching cartoons, and gambling away my house, my car, everything I own, on my mobile phone. How would you even know,” Nower said.
While research and programs related to addictions like Alcohol and Narcotics is plentiful, even getting funding from the federal government itself, gambling has become increasingly deregulated and underfunded. As the sports gambling epidemic continues to speed up, researchers are having trouble keeping up the pace. Researchers predict that the use of these platforms, like other forms gambling addiction, will lead to spikes in bankruptcy and domestic violence, as well as mental health symptoms like depression, anxiety, and even suicide.
“There is no federal presence at all, and that is the biggest problem,” Nower said.
One of the most upsetting parts is that states and the federal government are aware of these problems, but many groups lobbying on behalf of the industry have promised that an increase in gambling revenue will lead to higher tax revenue for many states.
When the New York times investigated the issue in 2022, they wrote “The states are not disinterested parties. They collect taxes on gambling, and the more people bet, the more governments get. One result is that states have, in many ways, have given gambling companies free rein.”
States are going gung-ho, legalizing betting with little to no understanding of the consequences, and according to this same investigation, many of these states have yet to reap the benefits of the promised tax revenue. Gambling addiction is a serious public health crisis, but states see it as a cash grab. With over 60% of Americans showing approval for the legalization of the industry, and public support continuing to grow, sports betting is proving to be the next big American addiction.