Calls for Florida’s gambling addiction HelpLine have doubled since launch of online sports betting

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Florida’s Problem Gambling HelpLine has seen its call volume explode since legal online sports betting official rolled out this past December.


210,00 Florida adults have a diagnosable gambling disorder according to the Florida Council on Compulsive Gambling.

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More than 820,000, or just shy of four percent of Florida’s total population, are considered at-risk.

Richard Pinsky with the Council told Action News Jax, the launch of online sports betting has driven many in the at-risk population into full-blown addiction.

“It’s all hands on deck, but it has been a struggle to meet the demand here in the last 90 days,” said Pinsky.

Pinsky said contacts to the state’s Problem Gambling HelpLine have more than doubled since the launch of online sports betting in December.

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Specific numbers are not yet available, but for some context, the helpline received more than 25,600 contacts between July of 2021 and July of 2022.

That’s roughly 2,100 calls a month on average and Pinsky added calls generally increase about five percent a year on average.

The launch of the Seminole Tribe’s Hard Rock Bet app marked the first time Floridians could legally place bets from the comfort of their own homes, rather than having to go to a casino or card room.

Pinsky argued that ease of access makes online sports betting particularly problematic for those susceptible to gambling addictions.

READ: Cavs coach Bickerstaff says he received threats from gamblers, feels sports betting ‘gone too far’

“That is why this is an insidious mode of betting, because it is not brick and mortar,” said Pinsky.

He also noted the launch of legal online sports betting has resulted in a spike of younger Floridians developing gambling problems.

“They are removing dollars from your mom’s purse or dad’s wallet. So, it is an impact to the family as well,” said Pinsky.

In an emailed statement the Seminole Tribe of Florida weighed in on the rising helpline contacts.

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“Hard Rock Bet is committed to player safety and responsible gambling. In addition to providing responsible gambling tools in Hard Rock Bet products, the Seminole Tribe contributes annually as the largest funder of the Florida Council on Compulsive Gambling, with funding of over $24 million during decades of support, and constant promotion of the 1-888-ADMIT-IT helpline, which likely impacts the number of helpline calls. We look forward to working with the FCCG to continuously identity and provide resources for those who need help,” said a Tribe Spokesperson.

Pinsky argued state lawmakers need to find a way to make it easier for problem gamblers to cut themselves off from the ability to place bets and may need to consider bolstering addiction resources to meet the rising demand.

“Whether it’s obesity, whether it’s alcohol, it is the same trigger in the brain that we’re dealing with and as long as we understand that and find ways in which we can help the folks that cannot handle their compulsive behavior, that is what the State of Florida’s gonna need to do,” said Pinsky.

Pinsky added this year lawmakers fully funded the Problem Gambling HelpLine at $2 million.

In previous years, a significant portion of that funding has been swept and used to fund other priorities.

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If you or a loved one is struggling with a gambling addiction you can call 888-ADMIT-IT or click HERE.

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