50% of US Sports Bets in CT Placed by Problem Gamblers

Quick Intro

As the Super Bowl buzz settled, Connecticut unveiled a critical study, revealing that problem gamblers, making up less than 2% of the state's population, are behind half of all sports betting activities. This detailed analysis is the first since the legalization of sports betting and online casino gaming in 2021, shedding light on gambling behaviors among Connecticut residents.

Gambling Landscape in Connecticut

The study, conducted by Gemini Research and led by University of Massachusetts professor Rachel Volberg, shows that while two-thirds of Connecticut residents engage in some form of gambling, only a small fraction (10%) participate in sports betting or online gaming. This marks a slight increase from the 8.2% who engaged in sports betting through illegal means in 2009, highlighting the enduring popularity of sports betting despite its legal status.

Revenue Insights and Problem Gambling Impact

A staggering 71% of all legal gambling revenue in Connecticut is sourced from less than 7% of the population, identified as problem (1.8%) or at-risk (4.9%) gamblers. The study emphasizes the disproportionate contribution of problem gamblers to the state's gambling revenue, particularly in sports betting, where they account for 51% of the revenue.

The state Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services commissioned the $1.2 million study to examine the socioeconomic impacts of legalized gambling, following directives from the General Assembly. The findings underscore the financial reliance of the gambling industry on a relatively small segment of the population prone to gambling issues.

Online Sports Betting's Future Growth

Despite the modest population size of 1.7 million, the state boasts a diverse gambling portfolio, including nine online casinos and eight legal online sportsbooks. January figures revealed over $46 million in total sportsbook bets, generating $6 million in revenue. However, the sports betting market's growth has lagged compared to online casinos, which can generate up to $16 million in monthly revenue, attributed partly to the absence of a professional sports team in Connecticut.

Addressing Problem Gambling

The report highlights the need for more proactive treatment and prevention measures for problem gambling, noting that stigma, unawareness of help resources, and perceived costs deter individuals from seeking assistance. It suggests innovative strategies like modifying casino reward cards to encourage control over spending and considering restrictions on service hours to mitigate problem gambling.

Connecticut's gambling landscape faces saturation, with peak casino revenues in 2007 and increasing regional competition. Gemini Research points to online gambling, especially online casino gaming, as the sector with the most significant growth and revenue potential, underscoring the need for strategic adjustments to accommodate market realities and address the challenges of problem gambling effectively.

Source: https://portal.ct.gov/-/media/DMHAS/Publications/2023-CT-FINAL-REPORT-Jan312024.pdf