A report released by New Jersey Attorney General Matthew J. Platkin indicates that bettors in the state have a higher rate of problem gambling—as much as three times the national average.
Funded by the state Division of Gaming Enforcement (DGE), the report, entitled, “The Prevalence of Online and Land-Based Gambling in New Jersey,” was authored by researchers from the Rutgers University School of Social Work’s Center for Gambling Studies, led by Dr. Lia Nower. It was issued in September as part of Problem Gambling Awareness Month.
“As New Jersey’s gaming industry continues to grow, we have an obligation to help those suffering from problem gaming and gambling addiction issues,” said Platkin. “Through the release of this report, we are taking a comprehensive look at the pervasiveness of gambling across the state, and with it, able to better identify challenges for our most vulnerable populations and design programs and initiatives to assist them.”
Felicia Grondin, executive director of the Council on Compulsive Gambling of New Jersey (CCGNJ), called gambling disorder “a hidden addiction.”
“That’s the problem,” she said. “Our 800-GAMBLER Helpline has been extremely busy over the last number of years. Since 2016, we’ve had a 225 percent increase in our helpline calls. So people are struggling.”
Survey participants were quizzed about gambling on the lottery, high-risk stocks, slots or video poker, table games, sports wagering, fantasy sports, bingo, cryptocurrency trades, horse racing and more. According to the report:
The overall rate of extreme problem gambling decreased from 6.3 percent to 5.6 percent, and low to moderate-risk gambling also was down from about 15 percent to 13 percent
However, statewide, the problem gambling rate is about three times the national average, similar to the findings from a previous report in 2017, before sports betting was legalized
Sports betting levels rose from about 15 percent to more than 19 percent
Online-only gamblers nearly tripled from about 5 percent in 2017 to nearly 15 percent
The number of people who patronized both brick-and-mortar and online casinos almost doubled, from 19 percent to 36 percent
The number of people who gambled only at land-based casinos dropped from nearly 76 percent to less than 50 percent
On the rise of certain categories of gambling, DGE Director David Rebuck said, “We’re dedicated to helping players play responsibly. For some people, this means setting limits to keep the experience enjoyable and social. For others who are struggling with problem gambling, it may mean signing up for self-exclusion or seeking out additional resources.
“We encourage both players and operators to maintain a balanced perspective on gambling.”