And a measurable increase in problem gambling.

By Vanessa Simpson
2 min read

The United States is in deep the throes of the largest expansion of regulated gambling in its history, and the results so far have been eye-popping. More than 30 individual US markets combined to generate nearly $100 billion in total wagers in 2022, yielding more than $7.5 billion in revenue for operators.

And a measurable increase in problem gambling.

Data from the US almost universally demonstrates an unmissable rise in the number of people who seek help for their gambling behavior. And some of the blame falls directly on operators for what can be summed up as bad behavior.

Advertising has utterly boiled over, with the largest operators spending hundreds of millions of dollars a year on traditional and digital marketing. Alliances between sportsbooks and teams/leagues are further helping to stitch gambling into the fabric of American sports – even in the realm of college sports where the on-campus audience is largely underage. At least one major US operator has already faced fines for marketing directly to university students.

These same sportsbooks are meanwhile giving away hundreds of millions more dollars in free and boosted bets, perhaps the simplest tool to entice customers into playing more and playing more often. And it’s obviously working.

The US isn’t the first jurisdiction to reckon with the process of regulating this industry from scratch. And these circumstances have historically created conditions that are ripe for public outcry and the sort of fear that forces policymakers to intervene with a strong hand.

It is therefore imperative for the industry to impose some self-corrections.

-           To provide real protections for customers
-           To avoid a severe regulatory crackdown
-           To build a more sustainable business

If operators won’t protect their customers, then state officials will. Listen to New Jersey’s top regulator David Rebuck: “If the industry does not control itself, the government will step in and certainly create standards that they may not want.”