(NewsNation) — The NFL season has officially kicked off and that means a lot of fans are making bets. As more and more states are legalizing sports betting, some are raising concerns about whether this could worsen gambling addiction in America.
“We’re going to be bombarded” with sports gambling issues, said Andrew Brandt, professor of practice and executive director of the Moorad Center for the Study of Sports Law at Villanova Law School.
Sports betting is legal in at least 30 states with a record $7.5 billion in revenue in 2022, according to the American Gaming Association.
The National Council on Problem Gambling estimates that in any given year, two million Americans meet the criteria for severe gambling problems.
Some fear that the figure may go up because of how accessible it now is.
NewsNation spoke to a licensed counselor who said there needs to be more education and more treatment options because he believes it will be an epidemic.
“Gambling addiction has morphed into something that was unheard of two or three years ago and I get so many calls now for sports gambling,” said James Martinez, clinical director of Lifetime Recovery.
Martinez said he is seeing younger and younger patients and says schools need to step up gambling awareness education programs.
“I once worked a case with a 19-year-old,” Martinez said. “Who would get their parents to sign them up for the apps and would lose lots of money.”
Brandt runs a podcast that is sponsored by Draft Kings and also served as a consultant to help draft a state bill that included a provision for funding for gambling addiction treatment.
“That is certainly a part of how all these bills are passed because there has to be language in there to address it,” Brandt said. “What I can’t tell you is how it’s working.”
Online and mobile betting sites do have responsible gambling warnings and policies.
The NFL partnered with the National Council on Problem Gambling back in 2021 to launch a $6.2 million responsible gambling awareness and education campaign over a three-year period.
If you or someone you know needs help, call 800-GAM-BLER.