Are problem gamblers on the increase in the Garden State? Despite the shutdown of casinos in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, New Jersey has continued to see revenue from online gaming. Given that people were stuck at home during the months-long closure of brick-and-mortar casinos, that’s not surprising.
While thus far, findings have not indicated an increase in problem gamblers during the COVID-19 shutdown, there are quite a few reasons why the increase in online gambling should be taken seriously.
Widespread Impact of Problem Gamblers
Even though only a small number of New Jersey residents are problem gamblers, the issue is a devastating concern to everyone connected to a gambling addict.
The behavioral disorder manifests by an ever-increasing preoccupation with gambling. The problem gambler needs to bet more and more and more. They’ve lost control of their behavior despite mounting debt and other serious consequences.
From financial ruin to losing their career and family, the amount of damage that problem gamblers bring upon themselves is limitless.
Financial Devastation Triggers Problem Gambling
Millions of Americans meet the criteria in DSM-IV for a gambling disorder. During a financial crisis, a problem gambler can be triggered to gamble more, believing the next big win is right around the corner.
In fact, financial problems are cited as the most common factor triggering a problem gambler. Thus, the overwhelming financial hardship triggered by the government-mandated shutdowns easily could have triggered a cycle of need, gain, and loss.
While a soaring stock market can be a sign of economic recovery, nearly half of all Americans do not invest in the market. The fact is, nearly 1.5 million New Jersey residents have sought unemployment benefits, and many are still out of work.
Emotional Turmoil Triggers Gambling Addiction
Factors leading to increased gambling include loneliness, job-related stress, emotional turmoil, and an addiction-prone personality. If you consider the current socio-economic, cultural, and political climate, it’s easy to see the potential for a problem gambler being triggered.
Online Gambling Continued Without Major League Sports
Online gambling his a new record in New Jersey, reaching $86 million in May. Of that $86 million, a little more than $10 million was bet on sports.
While can’t predict when major league and college sports will resume normal play, it’s important that we brace for the fact that problem gamblers will indulge themselves in sports betting. When major league sports resume, 22 states, as well as Washington D.C. will be taking bets.
The casino and online gambling operators acknowledge responsibility for ensuring that problem gamblers get the help they need. They are the gateway to what the gambling addict wants and needs. Now more than ever, it’s vital that these gaming operators address problem gambling, not only ethically, but also to ensure the industry’s survival.
It’s strongly advised that gaming companies create tools and resources to help mitigate the dangers of problem gambling. The good news is, many casinos and sportsbooks have self-exclusion tools that limit a player’s ability to fund through their bank account, and limit bet amounts.
The gambling industry’s guidelines are largely well-defined and fair, but this is a very bad time for problem gamblers. There should be a way to block online ads for casinos, to reduce the temptation.
We are at a critical point, not just for New Jersey’s growing gambling industry, but also for the well-being of the Garden State’s gamblers. The COVID-19 shutdowns have dramatically impacted every aspect of our lives; that includes the gaming industry, and major league sports.
As the casinos and gaming companies attempt to recover, they also need to include tools for responsible gaming to help the state’s problem gamblers through this unprecedented time.