Calls To Florida Gambling Helpline Spike After Sports Betting Launch

Written By Phil West on March 11, 2024 - Last Updated on March 12, 2024
A picture of phones for a story about a spike in calls to the Florida problem gambling hotline since sports betting relaunched.

Since Florida reactivated sports betting in December, there’s been a significant uptick in the number of people seeking help for gambling problems.

WFLA-TV reported that the Florida Council on Compulsive Gambling has seen a 138% increase in calls and text messages to its helpline over the last two months.

It’s straining resources, said Robert Pinsky, a member of the organization.

“We’re struggling and there’s no doubt, trying to keep up is an effort. We’re scrambling, we’re trying to add folks.”

Sports betting has been available in Florida for only a few months

Florida sports betting has been legal for about three months. The Seminole Tribe exclusively controls both retail and online betting. After more than two years in limbo, sports betting was revived after a federal judge’s ruling.

The US Supreme Court is now weighing whether to hear an appeal questioning the Seminole’s exclusive right to offer sports betting. Pari-mutuel operators brought the lawsuit because they want to be able to offer sports betting as well.

The suit contends that the 2021 compact between the state of Florida and the tribe is “a backdoor around state constitutional prohibitions against online sports gambling conducted off tribal lands” and creates a “statewide monopoly over sports betting.”

Forrest Arthur, CEO of Resurgence Tampa Bay, told WFLA-TV that sports betting can lead to gambling addiction.

“I’ve seen this take everything from people, their homes, their families, everything they have.

“Reach out for help, don’t try to do it on your own and don’t think of it as a failing or a weakness. This is a very human, understandable problem.”

A Yale Medicine study said about 1% of the population suffers from a gambling disorder.

Florida’s gaming rules require employee training on problem gambling signs

In its handbook on responsible gambling, the American Gaming Association noted:

“Responsible gaming programs are a critical part of the US gaming industry’s everyday business. The central goal of these programs is to ensure that patrons responsibly enjoy gaming as a form of entertainment, while minimizing the potential for risky or problem gambling.”

Florida’s responsible gambling regulations require the creation of a compulsive or addictive gambling prevention program. This involves training employees to identify problem gamblers and educating them on proper practices.

Prevention program rules for licensees in Florida include:

  • Train employees on responsible gaming, including recognizing problem gaming scenarios and enforcing programs and practices
  • Contract out services related to prevention programs
  • Provide a program manager to ensure there is a program in place and that proper practices are upheld
  • Place responsible gambling material in public and in slot machine gaming areas at licensed facilities
  • Print materials must be made available for educating patrons about compulsive gambling and providing local and statewide resources for assistance
  • Employee logs detailing information on training within a reasonable time frame upon employment
  • Annual follow-up training for employees
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