Maryland Balances Sports Betting Potential and Problem Gambling
By Betmaker Team
Mobile sports betting launched in Maryland on Wednesday, as seven mobile sportsbook operators went live in the state. With the launch comes a rush of excited bettors signing up for sports betting platforms and wagering on a host of sporting events, from the NFL to the NBA to the World Cup. The Mobile launch also brings some worry to those in the responsible gambling community, as easier access to wagering could increase the number of people in the state with gambling problems.
“We’re concerned that there may be an increased rate and severity of gambling problems in Maryland, at least in the short term,” said Keith Whyte, executive director of the National Council on Problem Gambling.
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The Maryland Center of Excellence on Problem Gambling (the Center) is a program of the University of Maryland School of Medicine. It is funded by the Maryland Department of Health’s Behavioral Health Administration. The Center offers resources for Marylanders with gambling problems, and it also works to promote smart gambling habits.
So how does the Center help Marylanders in need? There’s a 24-hour helpline (1-800-GAMBLER) the state recommends calling. Callers will be directed to potential resources, including counselors and peer recovery specialists. The peer recovery specialists provide a slightly less formal form of support than the counselors, offering advice and resources to those in need of help.
Maryland also encourages those with gambling problems to visit helpmygamblingproblem.org. That website includes helpful resources, including a self-assessment bettors can take to see if they’re showing signs of problem gambling.
Whyte recommends visiting responsibleplay.org, which offers national resources and tips to develop healthy gambling habits. Even if you don’t have a gambling problem, visiting the site to learn about healthy gambling practices can be valuable.
Whyte raised a concern about PointsBet’s partnership with the University of Maryland. The deal, signed in December 2021, was the first sports betting partnership in the Big Ten. The agreement includes “fan-facing in-game and campus activations.”
There’s significant concern from the NCPG about the partnership, and it’s not the only partnership between a university and a sports betting operator. Caesars, for example, has a notable collaboration with Louisiana State University, a well-known SEC program.
Even with colleges forming business relationships with operators, most states, including Maryland, require bettors to be 21 years old to wager legally.
Whyte hopes to eventually see a day when operators make a bigger push to incentivize players to gamble responsibly.
“That’s where I think you’ll really start to see progress in responsible gambling when a company starts putting real serious money behind it,” Whyte said.
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