Are the risks of sports gambling worth the reward?

Are the risks of sports gambling worth the reward?

Chris Farrell and Matthew Alvarez

It’s been four years since the Supreme Court of the United States legalized sports gambling in 2018. Since then, 35 states and Washington D.C. have made sports betting legal for their residents and all who visit.

Betting online has also evolved. If you live in a state where sports betting is legal, you can download a variety of betting apps to get in the game.

If you don’t know how or where to start, it’s likely an advertisement will tell you: Sports gambling ads are rampant in states where it’s legalized. The ads are often celebrity endorsed, make betting look easy and entice people with the possibility of winning a large amount of money.

Sports gambling is not legal in Minnesota, but that might change with a bill in the Minnesota Legislature aimed at legalizing sports betting. A Minnesota poll last year also found that 48 percent of Minnesotans are in favor of legalized sports gambling.

As support for Minnesotans to wager on sports grows, so does the normalization of gambling across the country.

Guest host Chris Farrell talks about the rapid growth of sports betting, the mental health risks for young adults and how sports gambling can quickly spiral into addiction.

For information on problem gambling, or if you need to seek help, you can call 800-333-HOPE or visit


WAGER: Rwandan study indicates existing family dysfunction can elevate risks of gambling harms.

WAGER: Rwandan study indicates existing family dysfunction can elevate risks of gambling harms.

Read the original article on the Basis website HERE.
By John Slabczynski

With online gambling revenue projected to surpass $150 billion by 2030, developing a better understanding of the causes and consequences of gambling-related problems is especially important. A key focus in those suffering from gambling problems is the family, as family members are greatly impacted by problem gambling. However, some evidence also indicates that one’s family can potentially contribute to the risk of developing gambling problems. This week, The WAGER reviews a study by Marie Aime Uwiduhaye and colleagues that examined the role of family in the relationships among psychosocial risks, gambling problems, and other adverse outcomes.

What were the research questions?
What are the psychosocial correlates of gambling problems? Does family dysfunction moderate the relationship among gambling problems and negative outcomes, including drug misuse, alcohol dependence, anti-social behavior, and poor sleep quality?

What did the researchers do?
The researchers recruited 104 men from casinos in Musanze, Rwanda during 2019. Participants completed a number of self-report survey items, including questions about their gambling, substance use, sleep quality, family relationships, and mental health. The researchers used a combination of Pearson’s r correlation analyses and regression analyses to examine relationships. First, they examined the correlations between gambling problems and all other variables. Next, they examined these relationships through a series of regression analyses that also assessed the role of family dysfunction as a moderator.

What did they find?
Nearly half (44%) of participants reported high-risk gambling, with 37% reporting moderate risk gambling and 19% reporting low-risk gambling (see Figure). As expected, people with more severe gambling problems reported worse drug and alcohol problems (perhaps due to self-medication), as well as more insomnia, anti-social behavior, and family dysfunction. However, among participants with relatively high levels of family dysfunction, the links between problem gambling severity, and drug misuse, alcohol dependence, and insomnia (but not anti-social behavior) were stronger, suggesting that family dysfunction elevates the risk for these gambling harms.

proportion of participants at each level of gambling.

Figure. Proportion of participants in the low-risk, moderate-risk, and high-risk gambling categories, and correlates of high-risk gambling. Click image to enlarge.

Why do these findings matter?
These findings help explain the relationship between gambling problems and frequently comorbid conditions including substance misuse. Clinicians need to understand each individual client’s pattern of co-occurring conditions, including which are primary and which are secondary, to address the root causes of distress. In addition, improving our understanding of both the causes and consequences of gambling-related problems can help enhance evidence-based treatments, which can be administered earlier in the development of problems. For example, the results of this study suggest that evidence-based treatments focused on the family, such as community reinforcement and family training, may decrease substance misuse in addition to gambling by improving family functioning.

Every study has limitations. What are the limitations in this study?
This study’s recruiting strategy was rather limited. The authors employed a convenience sample that only included men gambling at a casino. As a result, their findings might not be representative of other gamblers and the rate of high-risk gambling should not be interpreted as a prevalence estimate. Additionally, due to the cross-sectional nature of the data, we cannot be certain whether one variable causes another. Future studies should include a wider range of participants and collect data over time to better assess causality.

For more information:
Individuals who are concerned about or want to change their gambling habits can find support services through the National Council on Problem Gambling or Gamblers Anonymous. Additional resources can be found on our Addiction Resources page.

Gift Responsibly PSA

Gift Responsibly PSA

Susan Sheridan Tucker, Executive Director of Minnesota Alliance on Problem Gambling, and Adam Prock, Executive Director of The Minnesota Lottery, team up to talk about the harms of gifting lottery tickets to minors. This informative public service announcement is a part of an annual campaign that MNAPG participates in to remind adults to gift responsibly to minors this holiday season.

Research shows the younger someone is when they are exposed to gambling, the greater the likelihood they may have issues as an adult. Many people in recovery state that they started gambling at a young age and never thought it would lead to devastating consequences. A recent study showed that 1 in 4 18-24 year-olds think gambling is a good way to make money. With that in mind it’s important to acknowledge that youth gambling has emerged as a significant growing public health issue.

The WAGER: The ripple effect of gambling: Harms experienced by concerned significant others

The WAGER: The ripple effect of gambling: Harms experienced by concerned significant others

Read the original article on the basis website HERE.
By Kira Landauer, MPH

Gambling can lead to adverse consequences, including financial, social, emotional, occupational, and physical harms. Not only do these harms impact the gambler, but they can ripple across their social network and negatively affect the gambler’s intimate partners, family, and friends (referred to as concerned significant others, or CSOs). This week, The WAGER reviews a study by Nerilee Hing and colleagues that examined the prevalence of CSOs harmed by gambling in Australia, and the types of harms experienced by these CSOs based on their relationship to the person who gambles.

What were the research questions?
What is the national prevalence of CSOs harmed by gambling in Australia? What are the types and frequencies of harms experienced by CSOs based on their relationship to the person who gambles?

What did the researchers do?
The researchers conducted a national mobile telephone survey with 11,560 respondents in Australia during October and November of 2019. The sample was weighted to align with the current population of Australia. Participants were asked whether they had been personally affected by another person’s gambling in the past 12 months; those who responded yes were defined as a CSO. These respondents were then asked about their relationship with the person whose gambling most affected them, and also selected which of 25 harms they experienced because of that person’s gambling. Harms were classified into five categories: (1) emotional, (2) financial, (3) health, (4) relationship, and (5) work/study.

What did they find?
Six percent of respondents reported that they had been negatively affected by another person’s gambling in the past 12 months. CSOs were most often affected by a non-family member’s gambling (39.4%), followed by any family member’s gambling (38.9%). Women were more likely than men to experience harm due to their child’s or a current or former spouse/partner’s gambling, whereas men were more likely than women to experience harm due to the gambling of a non-family member (e.g., a friend or coworker).

Emotional harms were the most frequently reported category of harm overall (89.3%) and across all types of CSO-gambler relationships (see Figure). Relationship harms were the second most frequently reported category of harm (76.2%). The least reported category of harm by CSOs was work/study (29.1%). Overall, CSOs experienced a mean of 7.2 harms (median = 6). CSOs impacted by a former spouse/partner’s gambling reported the greatest number of harms, followed by current spouse/partner, parents, and children, respectively. CSOs affected by a work colleague or others’ gambling reported the least number of harms. Spouses/partners and family members were more likely than non-family members to report emotional, relationship, and health harms. CSOs harmed by a current or former spouse/partner’s gambling or their child’s gambling were most likely to experience harm in the majority of harm categories. Finally, women reported experiencing a higher number of harms (mean = 7.7) than men (mean = 6.54).

Figure. Harms experienced by concerned significant others (CSOs) who have been negatively affected by someone’s gambling in the past 12 months, by the type of relationship with the gambler and type of harm. Relationship types were categorized as partner (current spouse/partner; former spouse/partner), family member (parent; sibling; child; other relative) and non-family member (friend, work colleague/other). Total sample size is n = 686. Click image to enlarge.

Why do these findings matter?
These findings add to our understanding of the negative impacts that gambling can have on the individuals within a gambler’s social network. Findings from this study demonstrate the need to recognize and support CSOs in coping with a loved one’s gambling; a specific focus should be placed on supporting spouses, partners, and close family members of the gambler, who are likely to experience the greatest number of harms. Providers should be aware of how to support their clients who are negatively affected by a loved one’s gambling. Additionally, support services tailored to women CSOs are needed given that women CSOs are more likely to experience a greater number of harms due to a loved one’s gambling than men.

Every study has limitations. What are the limitations of this study?
Respondents only reported on harms experienced from the person whose gambling harmed them the most. It is possible that respondents were impacted by more than one person’s gambling but that information was not captured in this study. This study did not include or report on gambling harms experienced by children. As such, the findings are likely only generalizable to the adult population.

For more information:
Do you think you or someone you know has a gambling problem? Visit the National Council on Problem Gambling for screening tools and resources. Gam-Anon is a community of self-help support groups for concerned significant others impacted by a loved one’s gambling. For additional resources, including gambling and self-help tools, visit our Addiction Resources page.

Youth Gambling and Gifting Lottery Tickets to Kids

Youth Gambling and Gifting Lottery Tickets to Kids

Simply put, it’s a bad idea. What may seem like a fun and harmless gift for a young person can lead many to a gambling addiction as they get older. Why? Years of research around the globe have shown that children don’t have the cognitive brain development to understand the potential risks of gambling, especially if they experience a big win early on.

Youth Gambling Poses Significant Risk for Gambling Addiction

Gambling among youth can be more than an innocent, recreational endeavor. According to the American Psychiatric Association, 10 to 15% of young people have significant gambling problems compared to fewer than 4% of adults.

Youth gambling is particularly concerning because researchers have established a link between the age at which a person first gambles and the occurrence of excessive or problem gambling later in life. Problem gamblers say they began gambling as early as 10 years of age, on average.

It can be difficult to know if a young person is gambling and on the verge of developing a gambling disorder, but there are risk factors and signs to be aware of. Some of these include:

· History of problem gambling in the family – children of parents who gamble are nearly twice as likely to be weekly or daily gamblers

· Easy access to gambling. With smart phones, it’s not that difficult for youth to sidestep age checks, especially on unregulated sites.

· Trouble concentrating on homework because of preoccupation with gambling

· Thinking that gambling is an easy way to make money

· Feeling the need to bet more and more money

· Becoming more isolated from family and friends and choosing to spend more time gambling (often in secret).

Today’s youth have more access to gambling and gambling-like games than any previous generation. One concern is the way in which virtual casinos cater to youth, effectively making them “gamblers in training.” Another cause for alarm are loot boxes, an increasingly popular aspect of video games that can produce the same dynamics of traditional gambling. Read more on the convergence of gambling and gaming.

Studies have also shown that many adolescents gamble by purchasing lottery products, particularly scratch tickets, which often serve as an introduction to gambling. For this reason, the Minnesota Lottery and Minnesota Alliance on Problem Gambling (MNAPG) participate in Gift Responsibly, an international responsible gambling campaign to raise awareness about the risks of underage lottery play

Parents who are concerned about the gambling behavior of their children can take several steps. Some of these include:

· Learn about the risks associated with gambling activities

· Educate your child about the difference between responsible gambling and excessive gambling

· Monitor internet use

· Be alert for unusual changes in your child’s behavior

Interested in reading more about youth gambling in Minnesota? Click here to read the analysis of the 2019 Minnesota Student Survey by Dr. Randy Stinchfield.

If you feel your child may have a gambling problem, call the Minnesota Problem Helpline at (800) 333-HOPE (4673). Counseling for Minnesotans with a gambling disorder is provided by the state of Minnesota at no cost — for both the gambler and their families. MNAPG website also offers helpful resources.