That is particularly significant, Doura-Schawohl said, because as recently as five years ago Virginia was one of 10 states that provided no such funding at all.
Now, 2.5% of the tax dollars raised from sports betting revenues will go to problem gambling aid.
Yes, the money adds up
How much is that? New Jersey did $6 billion in “handle” in 2020 (total dollars wagered), even with several months of most major sports being sidelined due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Virginia has a similar population, so if sports leagues are able to complete their seasons mostly unscathed in 2021, the state should easily claim $3 billion in handle for the year even granting that it will take time to raise awareness of the availability of such legal gambling.
If operators retain a typical “hold” of about $200 million in revenue, the state’s 15% tax would bring in $30 million. The compulsive gambling share would then be $750,000 — with that allocation potentially going nowhere but up in subsequent years.
Which state is best for funding programs for compulsive gambling? It’s Delaware, Brianne Doura-Schawohl of Council on Problem Gambling tells Seton Hall Law School “boot camp” audience
— John Brennan (@BergenBrennan) March 10, 2020
“They did a pretty good job there,” Doura-Schawohl told Sports Handle. “With the economic and social impacts from the pandemic, this is a very decent consideration. We always want to give credit where credit is due.”
Virginia also has approved construction of several casinos, and Doura-Schawohl said that may well produce even more funding for problem gambling assistance than sports betting does once that market matures.
So Our Legislature Stops Funding 4 Compulsive Gambling Help While It Funds $400K 4 A Destination Casino Study?WOW What A Message!!- #sayfie
— Bill Bunkley (@BillBunkley) May 4, 2011
A new sheriff in town
“Right now gambling is the only addiction that has no oversight with the federal government,” Doura-Schawohl said. “It’s still not a sure thing, but we remain hopeful for a better discourse. This could be an opportunity to address an issue that in the past has been neglected.”
She added that while the gaming industry overall is wary of federal involvement, the goal of compulsive gambling treatment advocates is for funding, “not regulation.”
And while states such as Virginia and Michigan are proving more receptive to funding as new gambling is brought to market, Doura-Schawohl said compulsive gambling is a problem in all 50 states.
“Even where legal gambling options are limited, it doesn’t mean people aren’t gambling [illegally],” Doura-Schawohl said, adding that suicide rates are higher among problem gamblers than any other addiction.
But how widespread is the problem in the U.S.? Doura-Schawohl said no one knows.
“There are studies in the United Kingdom showing that there are 50,000 children with a gambling problem and 400,000 adults,” she said. “Here, we’re just guessing” because funding has not been there for extensive research.