Half of Pennsylvania Bettors Reported Problem Gambling In 2023

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Half of Pennsylvania bettors reported problem gambling last year, according to the latest Pennsylvania Interactive Gaming Assessment: Online Gambling Report 2023. Online and retail gambling has continued to increase every year in the Keystone State since its legalization in 2017.

Pennsylvania Interactive Gaming Assessment: Online Gambling Report 2023 analyzes three years of survey data

The report summarizes three years of survey data from more than 1,800 participants across the state. It was developed by Penn State’s Criminal Justice Research Center under contract with the Pennsylvania Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs (DDAP).

Pennsylvania’s online gambling revenue in 2023 was more than $2.1 billion — a nearly 27% increase over the preceding year. The researchers discovered that online gambling participation increased to 16% in 2023 after maintaining a steady pace of 11% in 2021 and 2022.  The Quaker State is one of the top three online gambling revenue-earners in the nation.

Based on the study, researchers also found that half of Pennsylvania online gamblers reported a gambling addiction. Factors associated with problem gambling include increasing frequency in wagering, inability to cut back on gambling games, the lack of motivation or drive to participate in other activities, and potential drug use.

“As we see increased revenue and advertising for online gambling, this report serves as a way for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania to understand the potential impacts on individuals, families and communities,” said Glenn Sterner, assistant professor of criminal justice at Penn State Abington, lead author of the report and Social Science Research Institute co-funded faculty member.

“We remain committed to monitoring problem gambling and other issues that may result from greater access to online gambling.”

Other findings of the report revealed that those who gamble both offline and online — called dual-mode — gambled once a week while offline-exclusive gamblers played two to three times per month.

Dual-mode gamblers spent 10 times as long per month gambling than offline bettors

Dual-mode gamblers spent almost 15 hours per month gambling, while offline gamblers spent about 1.5 hours per month gambling.

On average, gambling expenses per month were higher among dual-mode gamblers at $708 versus offline gamblers at $103. About one-quarter of dual-mode gamblers earned less than $50,000 annually. These bettors engaged in the highest number of gambling formats.

The average age of dual-mode gamblers was 37, with the majority having earned a bachelor’s degree and being currently employed. Sports bettingwas the most popular online gambling format.

“Being aware of the current online gambling trends in Pennsylvania will help DDAP in its mission to assess and address how gambling behaviors impact compulsive and problem gambling within the commonwealth,” said DDAP Secretary Latika Davis-Jones.

“It will also help us to spread awareness that treatment and resources, like the 1-800-GAMBLER helpline, are there when someone needs help.”

Funding for this report was provided by the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board through Pennsylvania Act 42 of 2017. Revenue generated from interactive gaming licensees served as financial contributions for the study.

A webinar is being developed to assist in evaluating the survey results. An online gaming dashboard is also being worked on by the Penn State Criminal Justice Research Center.