Daily fantasy sports (DFS) is breeding a supplementary demographic of online gambling addicts, at least that’s according to a new report issued this week by Kaiser Health News (KHN).
The California-based non-for-profit healthcare publication concludes that a drastic rise in calls to the state’s problem gambling hotline in 2015 directly correlates to the growing popularity of DFS platforms like DraftKings and FanDuel.
“Poison comes in many forms for addicts: Alcohol and drugs usually come first to mind, but gambling, often overlooked, is of increasing concern to state officials and rehab centers,” KHN journalist Ana Ibarra wrote.
“With easy access from a computer, tablet or phone, daily fantasy sites such as New York’s FanDuel and Boston-based DraftKings have become the newer, hipper go-to platforms for people seeking the adrenaline rush that comes with sports betting.”
Addicted to Fantasy
The KHN report should come as no real surprise to anyone who’s followed the rapid growth of daily fantasy contests. It’s certainly not the first time DFS companies have been accused of producing an increase in gambling dependency.
Certified compulsive gambling counselor Arnie Wexler told the New York Post last fall that for some with the “gambling gene,” daily fantasy sports is as addictive as crack cocaine. And in a column that ran in November, a former gambling addict told the
New York Times that DFS is like “an alcoholic finding out about a whole new street of bars that he never knew about.”
The California Department of Public Health said 36,000 calls were made to its problem gaming hotline last year, the highest number since the state launched its public awareness campaign in 2003.
Unfortunately, the vast majority of addicts either fail to recognize their problem or refuse to seek help. An estimated one million Californians are addicted to gambling, with the average addict losing $38,000 per year and falling at least $20,000 in debt.
“Gamblers are very good at not showing their cards,” one addict told KHN. “I didn’t share my losses . . . Most gamblers don’t.”
States Carry On
Regardless of the sentiment of some in the healthcare community, numerous states across the country continue to consider and pass DFS legislation.
Indiana Governor Mike Pence (R) signed Senate Bill 339 into law last Thursday. The legislation lays the groundwork for DFS regulation and mandates that participants be at least 18-years-old, DFS sites keep customer funds and operating funds separate, and forces operators pay an initial registration fee of $50,000 and $5,000 annually thereafter.
With Pence’s signature, Indiana became the second state after Virginia to officially legalize daily fantasy sports.
Though its neighbor New York pressured DraftKings and FanDuel out of its borders by way of State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman’s cease-and-desist letters, Massachusetts is headed in the opposite direction.
Bay State Attorney General Maura Healey recently authored a series of protections for residents who want to play DFS. Healey reassured her constituents that playing contests on the popular platforms is not a violation of current law, but did stipulate that participants must be 21 or older moving forward.