As lawmakers nationwide decide whether to allow sports betting in their state, they’re debating whether bets, like almost everything else in our lives, can be managed online or whether wagers should be made only in person.
Among all legislatures across the U.S concerns is that the accessibility of online betting, especially on mobile devices, could be a pathway for minors to start gambling and make sports betting more addictive.
Rep. Teresa Tanzi, who voted against the bill, said she worries about giving people unlimited access to an activity that can be highly addictive.
“We know cellphones are addictive and gambling is addictive,” said Tanzi, a Democrat. “It’s two corrosive elements together, and we don’t know what those two things together will exponentially produce. I just don’t see that there’s adequate caution moving forward.”
A U.S. Supreme Court ruling last year opened the door to sports betting outside Nevada, which previously had been the only state where it was legal.
Whether to allow sports betting on mobile devices is being considered in at least 14 states and has been a contentious issue in some of those, including Indiana.
State Sen. Jon Ford wants bets to be taken online as well as at Indiana riverboat casinos and racetracks.
“Everybody’s using mobile to do all kinds of things we weren’t 10 years ago,” said Ford, a Republican. “It’s the future. It’s inevitable.”
Expanding sports betting will likely increase gambling addiction unless states adopt stronger regulations and companies adopt higher standards, said Keith Whyte, executive director of the National Council on Problem Gambling.