Will Problem Gambling Be on the Rise in the US with Influx in iGaming Traffic?

For three weeks now, the casinos in Atlantic City as well as other regions around the United States and throughout the world have been shut down. Covid-19 has hit hard and to try and slow the impact, non-essential businesses like the casinos in Atlantic City are no longer in operation. States like New Jersey are feeling the impact but do have other ways of making money from gambling. In New Jersey, the state has seen an uptick in player traffic at their legalize online gambling sites. And while the state has that option, will it be something that causes more harm than good? Some feel that with players gambling online more frequently now than ever, it could cause a rise in problem gambling issues.

Potential Risk Factor

With gambling in general, there is a risk factor. Players with addiction tendencies are at risk or other vulnerable people. When it comes to online gambling, the ease of use makes it more enticing and can be a reason behind a gambling addiction. In New Jersey as well as other states, operators are to adhere to strict guidelines and complete player checks. Anyone who seems at risk, should be consulted.

Operators are also supposed to offer problem gambling options such as resources for addictive behaviors. Players can also choose to self-exclude if they feel that they have a problem. Self-exclusion keeps players from being able to access gaming sites and playing for real money.

In speaking to the Press of Atlantic City, National Council on Problem Gambling executive director Keith Whyte commented that the group feels that the risk factor for gambling problems is increasing right now. It’s a perfect storm of sorts as casinos are closed and quarantine creates a self-isolation situation.

Players are shifting to online gambling and then the impact on resources and programs for gambling addiction are also at play.

Questioning Gambling Behavior

There are certain questions that players can ask themselves about their behavior to determine if a problem exists. At the 1-800-Gambler site, certain questions can help a problem gambler, or friend/family member of a player, to figure out if help is needed.

Players will need to ask themselves if they have ever felt remorse gambler gambling or if they gamble longer than planned. After a loss, did the player feel that they must keep playing to win back the money lost? Players are also asked if they have ever gambled to try and earn money to pay debts or solve other financial difficulties.

By gambling regularly, it doesn’t necessarily constitute a problem. However, every gambler should be aware of their behavior, especially during this time of social distancing. Do you find yourself gambling more than you used to? Do you have a budget and are sticking to it?

There are ways to gamble responsibly that can help you to avoid a problem in the future. Choose to play at licensed and regulated sites. Have a budget in mind as to how much you will play with and once it is gone, stop. Make sure you are playing for fun rather than to fill a void or other reasoning.

By being proactive and responsible during your gambling time, you can enjoy online casino sites without the risk of developing a problem. If you do think you have a problem, contact 1-800-Gambler for assistance.


Rebecca lives in Las Vegas and after completing her degree at Reynolds Journalism school joined the USGS team to pursue her journalism dreams.