As sports betting continues to expand across Arizona in retail and digital formats, are there enough resources to help treat problem gambling?
It’s not an easy answer. There’s no precedent on what is needed at this time. All that is known is that there is no slowing the expansion of legal gambling across the state, and really, across the US. The best path forward for regulators in Arizona is probably to continue investing in resources to combat the problem.
There’s no better time to investigate this than during Problem Gambling Awareness Month, which began March 1.
Most professional sports venues in Arizona house sportsbooks
Arizona sports betting is now integrated with all of the professional sports teams in the state.
A BetMGM retail sportsbook is live at State Farm Stadium in Glendale, home of the NFL’s Arizona Cardinals. A FanDuel sportsbook is in the Footprint Center, where the NBA’s Phoenix Suns play their home games. A Caesars Entertainment sportsbook is located at Chase Field, home of the MLB’s Arizona Diamondbacks.
And now, a new DraftKings sportsbook is being built at TPC Scottsdale, site of the PGA Tour’s Phoenix Open.
Arizona is a sports-crazed state that just hosted the 2023 Super Bowl. That is why investments into resources that ensure responsible gambling are so vital. Cases of problem and addictive gambling will continue to rise as sports betting becomes more ingrained in the state.
Problem Gambling Awareness Month celebrates 20 years
Problem Gambling Awareness Month (PGAM) presents an opportunity for states to reassess resources in place to help problem gamblers. According to its website, the mission of PGAM is simple.
“[Its mission is to] hold conferences, air Public Service Announcements, provide counselor trainings, host health screening days, run social media campaigns and many other activities to increase public awareness of problem gambling and the availability of prevention, treatment and recovery services.”
The specific goals this year are to “increase public awareness of problem gambling and the availability of prevention treatment and recovery services,” as well as “to encourage health care providers to screen clients for problem gambling.”
Arizona has some resources to help bettors gamble responsibly
So, what resources are available to combat problem gambling in Arizona? There are a few different programs active in the state to help those with gambling problems or gambling addictions.
The first resource is the Arizona Department of Gaming’s Division of Problem Gambling. This institution is paid for by taxpayers, so all of its resources are free. Their website is full of important information, and anyone in Arizona can call (800) 639-8783 or text “NEXT-STEP” to 53342 for more information.
Another resource is the National Council on Problem Gambling. It keeps a list of up-to-date assets for Arizona residents having issues with gambling. It has databases to help people find counseling and support. The agency also has a help line, which is available to call or text at (800) 522-4700. It also has a 24-hour live webchat function as well.
The Arizona Council on Compulsive Gambling also has a help line available at (800) 777-7207, or anyone can email them at [email protected]. They also offer Gamblers Anonymous support groups in Arizona and across the nation.
On their own, these are not enough resources to fully address the issue of problem gambling. All of the entities at play – bettors and betting platforms – have a responsibility to work toward a world where there is no such thing as irresponsible gambling.
The work will take time.
Sportsbooks and casinos need time to better understand how to keep bettors from gambling irresponsibly. Platform companies need time to research how their systems can create more programs to protect their patrons from developing adverse issues with gambling. This industry is so new that it requires adaptability by everyone.
While these current resources help, more is needed to keep up with the massive expansion of sports betting in Arizona and elsewhere.
Know the warning signs of problem gambling
Problem gambling is exactly what it says. It is an individual having a problem with gambling. Whether it is a problem sticking to a budget or an addiction to wagering, these issues can severely harm many people. It’s not just the bettor who can get hurt. Problem gambling can impact families and friends.
No one is immune to such a disease. While some people might be predisposed to addiction, anyone can develop irresponsible gambling habits that negatively impact their lives and the lives of those around them.
Here is a list of possible warning signs that could lead to problem gambling, from PlayAZ’s responsible gambling resources page:
- Being ashamed to talk to other people about gambling habits
- Borrowing money to gamble
- Constantly thinking about gambling
- Feeling guilty about gambling
- Knowingly gambling money that should go to investments or to pay bills
- Losing interest in other activities
- Lying to people about gambling activities
- Pawning or selling possessions in order to gamble
- Skipping out on work or other activities to gamble
- Stealing money or objects in order to gamble
For avid gamblers who want to avoid slipping into a space where gambling becomes problematic, there are a few tips that could help.
- Before you start playing, set a budget and then stick to it
- Make sure you understand the rules of the game and your odds before putting your money down
- Only wager an amount of money you can easily afford to lose because you very likely will lose it
- Take a timeout if you find yourself getting too emotionally drawn into the game to play with your head