Rising sports betting trend in the DMV prompts concerns over support for gambling addicts

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Super Bowl Sunday is a time when the stakes are the highest for those on the field. Off the field, you can bet millions of dollars will be put on the line locally.

That’s because, while the big game will kick off in Las Vegas, bettors like Billy Giles no longer need to be on the strip to place a bet.

He spoke with 7News after stopping by the MGM Sportsbook at Nationals Park.

“[Betting] is here, a block away, FanDuel, you have your phone,” Giles said. “It’s very easy.”

With sports betting now legal in D.C., Maryland and Virginia ahead of the biggest sports wagering day of the year in the U.S., 7news is asking if there’s enough help for those with a gambling addiction.

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“There’s never been this ease of being able to bet on sports and bet in games,” said Economics Professor Brad Humphreys with West Virginia University.

Maryland is reporting its best month to date for sports betting.

They report that the market generated $6,482,403 in contributions to the state in December.

That will go to the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future Fund, even though it’s just a fraction of the nearly $565 million wagered in the state that month.

Humphreys said the online sports betting industry may not turn out to be the boon governments expected.

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He said his state, West Virginia, failed to hit it big on revenue because of how mobile sports betting is taxed.

“They actually lost money when they legalized sports betting,” he said. “People want to bet on sports. They don’t tax it as much as West Virginia taxed other forms of casino gambling.”

With Maryland’s mobile sports betting industry not legally obligated to contribute to the Maryland Problem Gambling Fund, bettors like Giles fear those with a gambling addiction may not find the help they need.

“You’ll find yourself betting all the time,” said Giles. “It’s a habit.”

In Virginia, 2.5% of the state tax on sports betting is contributed to the Problem Gambling Treatment and Support Fund.

The District initially set aside $200,000 a year for problem gambling treatment, but that was stripped away in the 2024 budget.

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