The number of calls to Michigan’s Problem Gambling Helpline have spiked since the launch of online sports betting in the state in late January.
US.- Online gambling and sports betting launched in Michigan in late January. While the economic impact saw operators collect $42.7m in gross receipts in the first 10 days, concerns have been raised over problem gambling.
In February, calls to the Michigan Problem Gambling Helpline were up five times year-on-year at 563.
Michelle Malkin, a Ph.D. candidate studying problem gambling at Michigan State University’s school of justice said: “That’s huge growth. Casinos are at limited capacity right now because of the pandemic. The only thing that could really explain this is the growth of online gambling. Because that’s really the only big change that’s happened in Michigan.”
“The biggest expansion has been through the internet,” she said. “And each time there’s an expansion they’re getting a new crowd of people with the potential to end up being a problem gambler.”
Online gambling generated almost $260m in gross receipts from January through March, according to the Michigan Gaming Control Board. That generated more than $36m in taxes that go to local and state funds that pay for internet gaming law enforcement, problem gambling prevention, a fund for first responders and more.
However, Malkin said Michigan should do more to educate people, particularly young people and parents, about problem gambling: “If anybody’s watching TV these days they’re inundated with commercials about all the different ways to access online gambling. You’re not seeing an equal number of things about what to do if you have a problem.”