The Season of Sports Gambling

The Season of Sports Gambling

MNAPG Northern Light Spring 2022

The Super Bowl and March Madness, which take place in February and (primarily) March, respectively, are the most popular sports betting events in the U.S. With the legalization of sports gambling in many states, both events experienced record wagers. Here’s a snapshot of each event.

Super Bowl LVI

Information about betting activity for the Super Bowl is not yet complete, but it’s clear that wagering beat out the previous record from 2021. According to, as of April 4, 14 states reported a combined $588.1 million in handle (amount of money wagered) and $45.9 million in revenue. This compares to $486.5 million in handle and $43 million in revenue from 17 legal jurisdictions in 2021. Notably, even states with neighboring states that legalized sports gambling since last year saw a considerable year-to-year increase.

NCAA Basketball Tournament

The NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament received more betting action than ever before. According to, prior to the Final Four games, 31 percent of Americans aged 21 to 64 placed bets on tournament games, with about two in three saying they bet more this year than on any previous tournaments.

Louie Anderson and Celebrity Gambling Behavior

Louie Anderson and Celebrity Gambling Behavior

MNAPG Northern Light Spring 2022

In January, Minnesota’s Louie Anderson, a nationally beloved comedian, died. His death was felt in comedy circles as well as among Minnesotans who took pride in a local boy making it big.

As with all of us, however, he had his human frailties. He also made an impact on the recovery and addiction community, where he was known for his candid stories about growing up with an abusive, alcoholic father, but he also had a gambling problem.

In a 2016 interview, < link to> when Louie was in the thick of his gambling addiction, he shared the story of a night when he lost $80,000 in Los Angeles, then drove to Las Vegas and won $100,000 in the middle of the night, making it back to Los Angeles in time to film a television commercial the very next morning. The interviewers seem more entertained by the story than interested in exploring his gambling addiction.

Depending on the news outlet, Louie was either a big-time, revered gambler —or he had a gambling problem. Indeed, the perceptions of gambling based on celebrity behavior can be deceiving.

Stories of celebrity gambling can normalize, if not trivialize, how destructive the activity can be. While the wealth amassed by many celebrities can appear to minimize the magnitude of their gambling, it’s clear that gambling can — and has — become a problem for some. Indeed, we know that gambling addiction is an equal opportunity employer and can affect virtually anyone – men or women, young or old, and those from every religion, race and socio-economic background. Sadly, that includes celebrities.

Section from Season of Sports Betting

Other notable findings detailed by, which were based on data from an online study conducted by National Research Group, included the following:

  • Thirty-nine percent of bettors reported that they wagered a total of at least $250. (Sixty-three percent reported betting at least $100.)
  • Sixty percent of people who bet on this year’s NCAA tournament did not fill out the traditional bracket.
  • Fifty-four percent of bettors said that legalized online sports betting has made them less interested in brackets.
  • Sixty-five percent said that the amount they wagered this year has been the most they’ve ever bet on an NCAA tournament.
  • Six percent of bettors wagered more than $1,000 while sixteen percent wagered between $500 and $999.
  • The majority of bettors (63 percent) bet on between three and 10 games.
  • Fifty-four percent placed a wager on the first round, with declining percentages betting on succeeding rounds.
  • Thirty-nine percent made moneyline bets (straight bets on winners and losers) while twenty-five percent wagered on same-game parlays (multiple bets or “legs” of a game).

While the article was published prior to the Final Four weekend, betting on the last three games was expected to be quite heavy, as the four teams comprising the Final Four were among the most heavily bet in the tournament.

Is This the Year Minnesota Legalizes Sports Betting

Is This the Year Minnesota Legalizes Sports Betting

MNAPG Northern Light Spring 2022

As the legislature paused for its spring recess, two bills, HF 778 and SF 574, were making their way through committees on the House and Senate sides, respectively. The two bills embraced different approaches.

HF 778, authored by Rep. Zack Stephenson, would create two master mobile sport betting licenses. One would be held by a tribal entity comprised of members of the Ojibwe Indian tribe or an entity owned by the tribe. The second would be held by a tribal entity comprised of Dakota Indian tribes or an entity wholly owned by the Indian tribe, and include up to eleven mobile sports betting operator licenses. The proposed tax rate is 10% on sports betting wagers placed online through a website or mobile application. Any wagers made on Indian lands are not subject to taxation. As sovereign nations, they do not fall under the same regulatory obligations as state and commercial entities.

As the bill stands today, mobile sports betting would only be allowed for those 21 years old and older. Legalized activities would include athletic events, esport events, college sports events or other events approved by the commissioner. Events prohibited or not covered by this legislation include: horseracing (legal under separate legislation), esports or athletic competitions organized by elementary, middle schools and high schools, or any youth activity sport league or fantasy sports contests.

The types of betting allowed would include:

º single game bets

º futures bets

º teaser bets

º parlay bets

º over-under bets

º moneyline bets

º in-game betting

º proposition bets

º straight bets

º exchange wagering

º futures bets placed on end-of-the-season standings, awards or statistics

º any other bets approved by the commissioner

Tax revenue collected would be distributed to the following:

1. Ten percent to the Public Safety Commission Division of Alcohol and Gambling Enforcement to oversee regulatory actions

2. Forty percent towards the problem gambling programming — 20% to the Department of Human Services and 20% to the state affiliate of National Council on Problem Gambling (MNAPG)

3. Fifty percent to amateur sports grants to promote integrity and participation of amateur sports.

MNAPG successfully added comprehensive problem gambling prevention education as a part of a young athletes’ education. Currently, no prevention material on problem gambling is offered in the schools. This would at least open the door to reaching this impressionable group. Providing an early foundational understanding to the potential harms of gambling may help in preventing future problems.

MNAPG was also successful in adding esports and being named recipient of 20% of the tax revenue generated by sports betting. We were also able to add a provision to study all gambling behavior and experiences of those aged 18 to 35. This will shed some new light on how, why and where this vulnerable age group gambles and help shape future prevention materials.

Currently, under the future rulemaking process, there would be standards to address and prevent compulsive and problem gambling. MNAPG doesn’t find this statement satisfactory and contributed more language for responsible gambling best practices, advertising and consumer disclosures for further consideration.

SF 574, authored by Senator Roger Chamberlain, resembles earlier bills submitted in past sessions with minimal language about responsible gambling programs, any mention of esports or fantasy sports, and providing just 1% of tax revenue generated toward problem gambling programs, of which the state affiliate of NCPG would receive ½%. This is the current arrangement we have with charitable gambling tax revenue.

The proposed tax rate is 6.75%. In this bill, a sports pool operator license could be provided to a federally recognized Indian tribe or a group of tribes located in Minnesota for wagering that takes place on tribal land, to a class A racetrack, or to an entity that provides an electronic sports wagering platform through a website or mobile application. There are no limitations to licenses provided.

This bill would also provide some tax relief to charitable gambling.

There appears to be more favorable aspects to the House bill than to the Senate’s. There are still many hurdles to jump and, in all likelihood, once the bills are combined it’s anyone’s guess as to which items will remain. We’ll certainly know more by the time the summer issue of Northern Light goes to press.

THE WAGER: Reddit and the NFL: What can an online support community for problem gambling tell us about the impact of sports betting legalization?

THE WAGER: Reddit and the NFL: What can an online support community for problem gambling tell us about the impact of sports betting legalization?

Read the original article on The Basis website HERE

By Caitlyn Fong, MPH

The Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA), which previously outlawed sports betting in most of the United States, was repealed in 2018 by the Supreme Court. Since then, legalized sports betting has grown rapidly, with the majority of states having active legal sports betting or pending legislation to legalize sports betting. Some studies have suggested a link between sports betting and gambling harm. For sports bettors experiencing gambling-related harms, online communities can be a source of self-help information and mutual support. This week, The WAGER reviews a study by Mark van der Maas and colleagues that analyzed how posts in an online mutual support community for problem gambling have changed with the expansion of legalized sports betting.

What was the research question?
How did the volume and content of an online mutual support community for problem gambling change after the repeal of PASPA and subsequent expansion of legalized sports betting?

What did the researchers do?
The researchers collected posts from the r/problemgambling subreddit (a message board on from January 1, 2016 to December 31, 2020. Using interrupted time series analysis, they compared the number of posts per week before, during, and after June 1, 2018 (the first day that states other than Nevada were able to initiate legal sports betting programs).

The researchers also analyzed 558 original posts from 75 unique, randomly-selected days and all 17,041 post titles from the study period. They used thematic analysis to examine the content of the selected posts and the post titles for common themes.

What did they find?
From January 1, 2016 to June 1, 2018, message board activity grew at an average of 0.14 posts per week (see Figure). During the weeks immediately following June 1, 2018, there was an average increase of 24.2 posts per week. Following that jump in posts, message board activity sustained an increase of 0.79 posts per week, which is more than five times the pre-June 1 activity rate.

After June 1, 2018, it also became more common for posts to mention American major league sports, such as Major League Baseball (MLB), National Basketball Association (NBA), and especially the National Football League (NFL). During 2019 and 2020, posts were more likely to encourage sobriety or express worry about abstinence from gambling as the start of the NFL season approached and as the Super Bowl date neared.

Figure. Average increase in posts per week on the r/problemgambling subreddit from January 1, 2016 through December 31, 2020. Click image to enlarge.

Why do these findings matter?
The rise in number of posts and references to American major league sports indicate an increased need for treatment and support of people experiencing gambling harm, especially during the NFL season. Online mutual support communities might also be an effective way to encourage formal treatment as an option and provide relapse prevention strategies. However, people who are concerned about their gambling should also consider seeking professional help from clinicians or using evidence-based self-help resources, as some research has identified potential risks of help seeking in online communities, such as misinformation or triggering content.

Every study has limitations. What are the limitations in this study?
Most posts did not mention a specific form of gambling, so it cannot be determined whether the increase in post activity was due to greater exposure to or experience with sports betting. Reddit users tend to be younger and predominantly male, and only about half of them are based in the United States, so the study might not be representative of the United States population. As a result, the findings may also not be generalizable to people outside of the Reddit online community.

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. For additional resources, including gambling and self-help tools, please visit our Addiction Resources page.

— Caitlyn Fong, MPH

The WAGER, Vol. 26(11)

The WAGER, Vol. 26(11)

Tuesday, November 02, 2021

Read the original article from The Wager Here.

By: Caitlyn Fong

Cryptocurrency, or “crypto”, is a digital currency that can be used to buy goods and services, or be traded for profit, with similarities with day trading on the stock market. Day trading itself is similar to gambling in some ways, and many day traders are also heavy bettors. Crypto trading is emerging as a similarly risky gambling-like activity. This week, The WAGER reviews a study by Paul Delfabbro and colleagues that investigated the gambling and stock trading habits of sports bettors, cryptocurrency traders, and people who do both.

What was the research question?
How do gambling habits, problem gambling rates, and prevalence of stock trading differ between sports bettors, crypto traders, and people who do both?

What did the researchers do?
The researchers surveyed 543 participants who reported gambling on sports or trading cryptocurrency at least once per month during the previous year. An international sample was recruited from the online platform Prolific and participants answered questions related to their gambling habits, crypto trading, and stock trading. Participants also completed the Problem Gambling Severity Index (PGSI). Then, the researchers compared three groups of participants: (1) those who only gambled on sports, (2) those who only traded cryptocurrency, and (3) those who did both.

What did they find?
Individuals who reported both crypto trading and sports wagering were more likely to have engaged in casino card games, race betting, and slots than those who reported either crypto trading or sports betting. Compared to sports bettors and those who did both, participants who only traded cryptocurrencies were less likely to gamble on all activities. The cryptocurrency-only group also had the lowest rates of moderate risk and problem gambling. Individuals who engaged in both crypto trading and sports wagering had significantly higher rates of moderate risk and problem gambling compared to sports bettors (see Figure). Importantly, however, 9.5% of the cryptocurrency-only group scored above the threshold for problem gambling on the PGSI, which is higher than the general population estimate of 0.5-2.0%. Stock trading was most likely to be reported by those who both traded cryptocurrency and wagered on sports.




Figure. Comparing the percent of participants in each group based on activities engaged in at least once per month during the past year whose PGSI score indicated moderate risk gambling or problem gambling. The difference between groups was statistically significant. Click image to enlarge.

Why do these findings matter?
The results show that crypto trading on its own is associated with increased problem gambling risk. Trading cryptocurrency also appears to amplify the risk of gambling alone, with those engaging in both activities most likely to experience gambling-related problems. Additionally, researchers have raised concerns that crypto trading has addictive qualities. Trading cryptocurrency is popular among gamblers, and should be incorporated into problem gambling screening and assessment protocols.

Every study has limitations. What are the limitations in this study?
This study was cross-sectional, so we cannot conclude whether trading cryptocurrency causes an increased risk for problem gambling or whether those already experiencing problem gambling have a greater inclination to engage in crypto trading. The study also relied on self-reported data, so participants might have under- or over-reported their actual gambling and/or crypto-related behaviors.

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. For additional resources, including gambling and self-help tools, please visit our Addiction Resources page.

— Caitlyn Fong, MPH

NFL Launches  Comprehensive Responsible Betting Education and Awareness Initiative

NFL Launches Comprehensive Responsible Betting Education and Awareness Initiative

The National Football League (NFL) will be launching an extensive, integrated league-wide responsible betting public awareness program designed to educate fans who choose to engage in sports betting to do so responsibly. The key message encourages people to play responsibly by sticking to a game plan, including setting a budget to know their limits, using licensed, regulated operators, and asking for help if they need it. The core message of the campaign’s creative is “Stick to Your Game Plan. Always Bet Responsibly.”

As part of this initiative, the NFL has made a multimillion-dollar, multi-year commitment to significantly expand its long-standing partnership with the National Council on Problem Gambling (NCPG). The NFL’s funding will enable the NCPG to launch a national grant program to fund enhanced services offered by local and statewide providers, as well as innovative prevention programs, including expansion of youth-facing curricula. The league’s support will also transform the national problem gambling helpline system and allow for the development of improved communications tools, including a new website,, that will provide the public with quick tips about betting safely and support resources for those in need.

“The National Council on Problem Gambling is pleased to partner with the NFL to shine a light on the importance of responsible betting,” says Keith Whyte, executive director of the NCPG. “With this partnership, we are able to exponentially enhance the NCPG’s ability to provide advocacy, awareness and assistance on problem gambling. The NFL’s far-reaching initiative demonstrates its strong commitment to being an industry leader in raising awareness. The league’s support of our advocacy efforts will help fund new communications initiatives, such as and a PSA about problem gambling, expand gambling prevention services where they are most needed, and modernize our National Problem Gambling Helpline operations with updated capabilities.”

The NFL is providing support to upgrade the National Problem Gambling Helpline system by raising criteria, improving call center technology, data collection, reporting, training and certification. A national helpline is crucial for prevention and safety, as well as connecting callers automatically with the appropriate state call center.

In addition to supporting impactful programs such as the helpline, NFL contributions will provide a wide range of additional benefits, including:   

• Critical investment in the foundation of a national safety net to prevent gambling addiction.

• Providing agility grants to state NCPG affiliates, nonprofits or other community organizations that can implement innovative problem gambling prevention programs in their local communities.

• Ongoing initiatives such as the league’s awareness and education marketing campaign to help fans and the public understand and use responsible betting techniques, and know where to get help.

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