Calls to Sports Betting Support Services Increased Last Three Months

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Calls to sports betting support services increased last three months

Ontario sports betting sites have become more prevalent over the last year. More sportsbooks are launching, and more people are betting in Ontario. While the majority of sports bettors don’t have a gambling problem, every month more people have called sports betting support services over the past three months. ConnexOntario is a gambling support service that has received more calls related to sports betting. The organization shared the new data on Thursday.

Quick Take

  • ConnexOntario received more calls about problem-gambling related to sports betting every month over the past three months
  • Sports betting itself isn’t a problem
  • More than half of the calls were from or about someone aged 25 to 44

ConnexOntario received an increased number of problem-gambling calls related to sports betting every month over the last three months according to data obtained from ConnexOntario. The number of iGaming regulated sports betting operators in Ontario recently reached 28 since Ontario began allowing single-game sports betting in 2022. “Since the proliferation of betting sites, it certainly has increased,” director of system navigation and information services Anne Counter said.

The Canada Safety Council has also received an increased number of problem-gambling calls because of sports betting. “Anecdotally we’re receiving a few more calls than we would usually get from people who identify as a problem gambler or someone who is a problem gambler in their family. We’re definitely seeing some similar results as to what ConnexOntario shared, it does seem to be on the rise,” national projects manager Lewis Smith said. 

ConnexOntario Data

ConnexOntario received over 250 per cent more calls in January and February this year than the organization received in December of 2022. More than half of the calls were from or about someone aged 25 to 44.

In December 2022, according to the data, four people called about problem-gambling related to sports betting. In January 2023, 21 people and four family members phoned in for help because of a sports betting problem. 

The number of calls increased again in February to 25 people and six family members, according to the data.
“I would say it’s not a huge jump,” Counter said. Counter said there could be more people who have a sports betting problem because family members who call ConnexOntario don’t always know what type of gambling the person is participating in.

Why Sports Betting Isn’t the Problem

Although the number of sports betting related calls to problem gambling services are increasing, sports betting might not be the problem. “It’s very easy to talk about sports betting as the problem right now because it’s trendy and it’s the most recent addition to the gambling sphere. At the Canada Safety Council, we’ve always been proponents of responsible gambling. 

Sports gambling in itself is not necessarily a bad thing, the bad thing is when a person allows it to take over their life and it starts to be shown in problems in their day to day life,” Lewis said. According to Counter, ConnexOntario hasn’t needed to expand its services to help sports bettors and doesn’t expect to in the near future. 

According to Kingston, Frontenac and Lennox & Addington Public Health, problem gambling is defined as a “progressive disorder characterized by continuous or periodic loss of control over gambling, preoccupation with gambling and money with which to gamble, irrational thinking, and continuation of the activity despite adverse consequences.”

ConnexOntario and The Canada Safety Council provide the same type of support for sports bettors as other gamblers. “Problem gambling is something you need to treat at the root. Whether someone comes in because they got hooked on sports gambling or slot machines or horse racing, it all comes down to the behavioral aspect,” Lewis said.

In an emailed statement, iGaming Ontario said it requires operators to ”successfully achieve and maintain responsible gambling accreditation through the Responsible Gambling Council’s

RG Check program, run problem gambling prevention and responsible gambling campaigns with a goal of achieving a balance between responsible gambling advertising and promotional marketing, participate in a future coordinated and centralized self-exclusion program, and share anonymized player data for the purpose of advancing problem and responsible gambling research. 

The prevalence of sports betting advertisements could be a contributing factor to the increase in problem-gambling calls to ConnexOntario. “The more they advertise, it increases people’s opportunity to get involved with online gambling. Without the level of advertising, some people may not have realized the sites are there,” Counter said.