While sports betting operators in many states with legal wagering offer up local problem gambling hotlines, the Sports Betting Alliance industry group is hoping to point lawmakers toward streamlining the system by advocating for 1-800-GAMBLER to be used across the country.
In the U.S., 21 states offer up the national number in advertising for gambling addiction, while 29 states plus the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico have local numbers available, either in addition to or instead of the national number.
Of the 35 U.S. jurisdictions that offer some kind of legal sports betting, 27 have local helpline numbers available, again, either in addition to or instead of the national number. When Maine, North Carolina, and Vermont come online late this year or early next, the states will allow operators to use the national hotline.
Beyond a phone call, there are phrases or numbers to text for help and websites to visit. But they don’t all point to where a caller might think. For example, 1800GAMBLER.net isn’t a national website for problem gambling, it is the PG website for the state of West Virginia, which has one of the most comprehensive problem gambling support networks in the country. While a caller or website visitor in West Virginia can quickly be directed to in-person help nearby, the website may not be immediately helpful for a gambler in crisis visiting the site from, for example, Arizona.
As legislators across the U.S. begin to consider what bills to file next year, the SBA is trying to create a clear message to gamblers in crisis in any state.
“1-800-GAMBLER is a seamless way for any consumer to access problem gaming resources and support in any state,” consultant Jeremy Kudon, who is also president of the SBA, told Sports Handle. “That is a message we will take to state legislatures who are considering sports betting legislation this upcoming legislative year.”
Read more here.