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Impact of sports betting on problem gamblers, and CT revenue, becomes clearer in new report

FILE, 2021: The CT Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services released its first mandated study examining the social and economic impacts of legalized gambling in the state since the state legalized online casino gaming and sports better in 2021.
Joe Amon
/
Connecticut Public
FILE, 2021: The CT Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services released its first mandated study examining the social and economic impacts of legalized gambling in the state since the state legalized online casino gaming and sports better in 2021.

Connecticut officials released a new study examining the impact of legalized gambling on state residents, just days before a record-setting year for Super Bowl wagers. It’s the first study of its kind for Connecticut since state lawmakers legalized online sports betting in 2021.

About 1 in 10 Connecticut adults reported betting on professional sports, e-sports and fantasy sports at either a sportsbook, casino or online site, according to the report.

The study also found that 1.8%, or about 50,000 state residents, have a gambling problem. About half of the state’s online sports betting revenue comes from those individuals.

“Considering that legal gambling availability has continued to increase both in Connecticut and North America more generally beyond the early 2000s, the present fairly low rate of problem gambling illustrates that populations tend to adapt to the presence of legalized gambling over time,” study authors wrote.

About 139,000 people were also estimated "at-risk" for gambling problems. About 40% of people with gambling problems reported being in a relationship, which the study authors say underscores the further reach of gambling-related problems in Connecticut.

The study was run by Gemini Research Inc., for the state Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services (DMHAS).

Since the last state-backed gambling study in 2009, the rate of gambling problems among residents hasn't increased, the report shows. In fact, that rate has fallen slightly in the last three decades — from 3.2% in 1991.

“In general, this is very consistent with overall North American trends which show that problem gambling rates peaked in the late 1990s/early 2000s and have been declining ever since,” the report noted.

The investigation, mandated to take place periodically per Connecticut law, ran from January to August 2023. Gemini found those who were struggling most reported issues tied to their mental health, finances, relationships, and work or school.

Among the report’s recommendations are more state outreach to people showing signs of gambling addiction. Researchers cite stigma, or lack of knowledge of existing resources, as roadblocks to help.

For help with a gambling disorder, the Connecticut Council on Problem Gambling can be reached at 1-888-789-7777, and online materials are also available on the DMHAS website.

As Connecticut Public's state government reporter, Michayla focuses on how policy decisions directly impact the state’s communities and livelihoods. She has been with Connecticut Public since February 2022, and before that was a producer and host for audio news outlets around New York state. When not on deadline, Michayla is probably outside with her rescue dog, Elphie. Thoughts? Jokes? Tips? Email msavitt@ctpublic.org.