The popularity of gambling in the USA continues to grow. Because states can now set their own betting laws, forecasts suggest that by 2024 the market across the nation will reach $8.1 billion. This comes as new revenue highs were reached in 2019, with CNBC reporting that, by the end of 2020, half of all Americans will live in states offering legal sports betting.
This prompted the Financial Times to publish the article “A Bet on America: The Sports Gambling Gold Rush” last year, in which it quoted betting company chief executive Peter Jackson as saying this was the most exciting time for the US since the rise of online betting.
Despite a historical unease in America, which has seen draconian laws in many states prohibiting gambling, the Supreme Court’s decision in 2018 to legalize sports betting at a federal level, was a further step towards a more liberal approach as witnessed in countries such as the UK.
That is despite growing concerns in such countries to the rise of problem gambling resulting from ease-of-access to a multitude of betting platforms and games. However, measures have been introduced to help those who have identified addiction through an initiative known as Gamstop. A self-exclusion scheme, its potential benefits, which will become more evident over the next 12 months, could be one possible solution to mitigate problem gambling in the US in the future.
Gamstop and its uses
Gamstop is seen as a major step forward in tackling problem gambling in the UK. Online casinos operating in the country must provide Gamstop as an option to customers. The scheme works by preventing access to all Gamstop registered sites in the UK for a minimum of six months.
It promotes and provides responsible gambling and help for problem gamblers. This includes guidance on understanding when to stop, and setting money and time limits. It also provides contact details for support groups and organizations, which can offer further help (which in the US could be the charity GamCare or the organization Gambling Therapy), while detailing signs customers should look for to identify when they may need to take a break.
While the majority of online casino customers won’t require such a service, it provides a safety net for the minority that do. In the US, where betting, in 1992, was outlawed by the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act, initiatives like Gamstop would give the industry far more credibility. It would show a willingness to protect vulnerable customers, while reinforcing the need to have an effective, nationwide infrastructure in place which promotes responsible gambling.
Of course, a Gamstop equivalent in North America would only be part of a wider policy. However, it does represent a viable scheme that would help reduce the potential of problematic gambling as a result of the growing market. In combination with other measures, such as federal-level investment in gambling addiction prevention and treatment services, and the implementation of a dedicated regulatory agency to enforce legislation, the blossoming US industry would be far less of a concern for its critics.
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