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Half of calls to the gambling helpline were for help placing mobile bets

Local News

Of the 2,069 calls since sports betting was legalized, 1,043 were callers “seeking technical support for their mobile sports betting apps and platforms.”

A trash can display features former Boston Bruin Zdeno Chara in a DraftKings commercial outside Fenway Park, Friday, March 10, 2023. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

The legalization of sports betting in Massachusetts last year coincided with an increase in calls to the state’s hotline, but nearly a third of callers were seeking technical help with their mobile sports platforms, according to a new report.

The hotline saw a 121% increase in calls between July 2022 and June 2023 compared to the previous year, according to the Massachusetts Department of Public Health’s Office of Problem Gambling Services report released Wednesday. The helpline received a total of 3,050 calls, compared to 1,378 the previous year.

Sports betting came to casinos from January 31, 2023 and mobile sports betting started a few months later on March 10. BetMGM, Caesars Sportsbook, DraftKings, ESPNBet, Fanatics Betting & Gaming and FanDuel all have mobile or online platforms currently licensed by the Massachusetts Gaming Commission.

According to the DPH report, the hotline saw an increase in calls after sports betting was legalized. But of the 2,069 calls recorded between February and June 2023, 1,043 were not calls to the hotline, the report said. These callers were “looking for technical support for their mobile sports betting apps and platforms.”

The Office of Problem Gambling Services attributed the confusion to an increase in sports betting advertisements that mention the helpline.

The report also said there was a 41% increase in referrals for treatment and a 40% increase in calls seeking help for a loved one. There was a nearly 300% increase in calls from people aged 30 to 39 seeking treatment, according to the report. The rate of male callers increased, while the rate of female callers remained about the same.

The increase in calls does not necessarily mean there has been an increase in problem gambling in the state, the report said. Victor Ortiz, director of the Office of Problem Gambling Services, said his office will continue to monitor the effects of legalizing sports betting.

“The Problem Gambling Hotline provides an important connection between those experiencing problem gambling – including sports betting – and services that can help them,” Ortiz said. “Expanded access to gambling in the Commonwealth poses risks, particularly for those in recovery, and highlights the need to provide tailored referrals to callers based on their needs.”


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