New Jersey: Study shows high-risk problem gambling declined slightly despite surge in sports betting

A recent report by Rutgers University, commissioned by the state’s gambling enforcement division, has revealed a slight decline in high-risk problem gambling in New Jersey, despite the rapid growth of sports betting in the state. However, the study underscores that the prevalence of problem gambling in New Jersey still stands at three times the national level.

Covering the period between December 2020 and April 2021, the report examines various forms of gambling, including in-person and online casino gaming, lottery ticket purchases, sports and horse betting, bingo, keno, fantasy sports, and high-risk stock trading, which is categorized as a form of gambling, The Associated Press reported.

We are taking a comprehensive look at the pervasiveness of gambling across the state,” Attorney General Matthew Platkin was quoted as saying in the report. He said the report can better identify challenges for at-risk populations and encourage new programs being set up to help them.

Lia Nower of Rutgers University’s School of Social Work, Center for Gambling Studies, emphasized the state’s commitment to understanding gamblers’ activities to identify issues and provide support.

New Jersey has led the nation in evaluating every bet placed online, and addressing the impact of wagering on its residents. This report provides evidence to guide prevention and education efforts for those at highest risk for gambling problems: Younger adults, members of ethnic and racial minority groups, and those who gamble on multiple activities and bet both online and in land-based venues,” she said, as reported by AP.

This marks the first report of its kind since 2017, when it was initially commissioned to evaluate the impact of internet gambling, which was introduced in New Jersey in November 2013.

Despite the rapid expansion of sports betting in New Jersey, facilitated by the state’s successful challenge to a federal gambling law in 2018, the report reveals a decrease in the overall rate of high-risk problem gambling, dropping from 6.3% to 5.6%. However, this remains significantly higher than the national average. Low to moderate-risk gambling also saw a decline, falling from approximately 15% to about 13%.

To address problem gambling, New Jersey has implemented various measures, including facilitating self-exclusion, appointing a statewide coordinator for responsible gambling initiatives, establishing advertising standards for casinos and sports betting companies, and partnering with technology firms to monitor online betting and offer assistance to at-risk individuals.

The report notes that 61% of New Jersey residents participated in at least one form of gambling in the past year, a decrease from the previous report’s 70%. Additionally, participation in sports betting increased from 15% in 2017 to over 19% in 2021. Notably, the percentage of individuals exclusively gambling online tripled from 5% to 15%, while the proportion of those exclusively gambling in-person at casinos decreased from nearly 76% to 49%, mirroring concerns among Atlantic City casino executives about the industry’s post-pandemic performance with in-person gamblers.