According to an October survey from the PEW research center, they found that one in every five adults actively wager on sports. This number is only set to increase, as the sports betting industry as a whole has a projected 10% growth year over year from 2022-2032.
After a 1992 Supreme Court Ruling prohibiting sports betting was struck down in most states early 2018, the advertising floodgates opened for online wagering companies such as Fanduel and DraftKings.
Due to how quickly sports wagering has become mainstream, these companies have faced little regulation, which has led to multiple class action lawsuits for these online betting companies. Many of the lawsuits deal with privacy concerns, false advertising, and overall unsatisfied customers feeling as if they were cheated out of their money.
In January of this year, the two leading online sports betting companies, DraftKings and Fanduel, were tied up in controversy for violating gambling law in multiple states, enabling problematic gamblers to freely use the service with no limitations.
Fanduel’s participation in the case was settled in the summer of 2021, with Fanduel donating $375,000 to organizations that advocate responsible gambling. DraftKings continued to litigate the case, claiming they “deny all allegations of wrongdoing, liability or damages,” one spokesperson says. Ultimately, this lawsuit was resolved in January of this year, and ended with DraftKings also having to donate $350,000 towards promoting responsible gambling. Additionally, DraftKings took steps towards further protecting the players, allowing spouses or other authorized users to set limits on how much one can gamble.
Although these companies ultimately faced repercussions for what happened, the money donated towards promoting responsible gambling only makes up a small percentage of their yearly revenues. In 2021, DraftKings reported revenues exceeding $118 million, and their competitor Fanduel earned an astonishing $2 billion in the same year.
“They’ve gotten away from the sin-and-vice image that had been associated with gambling to where it’s now a normal socially acceptable behavior” says Jeff Deveresnky in an interview with NCAA’s Sports Science Institute. Derevensky is a director of the international center for Youth Gambling and High-Risk Behaviors at McGill University.
With the rising growth in online wagering alongside the normalization of the activity, many are worried this will enable existing problem gamblers as well as create an entirely new generation of bettors.
Many people who start gamling begin doing so at a young age. A Stockton University survey conducted June 2019 found that 111 college students out of a survey of 502 started gambling between the ages 18-20. With the popularization among betting, this number is only set to increase. These websites have age verification efforts in place but unfortunately there are ways around them. One of the more common methods is using an “off-shore” sportsbook. For those who are unfamiliar with the term, it is a sportsbook who is licensed in a different country which will have loose laws around gambling. It is most commonly done in Caribbean countries.
“There are people who exhibit problematic behaviors with sports wagering. They gamble away their money, so they would rather pay off their bookie than make house payments,” says psychology professor Rick Grieve at Western Kentucky University.