With North Carolina sports betting set to launch online later this year, more citizens will have easy access to placing wagers. This increased access brings concerns about the rise of problem gambling and whether North Carolina is equipped to provide adequate resources.

A recent NPR segment highlighted the nationwide lack of availability and visibility for responsible gambling resources.

“We’re still sitting back and making problem gamblers work hard to find the help that is available,” said Keith Whyte, executive director of the National Council on Problem Gambling.

The N.C. Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS) oversees problem gambling efforts in the state. North Carolina has a long-standing casino industry, and retail North Carolina sports betting launched in 2021. However, online North Carolina sports betting apps opening the floodgates to new bettors this year will exponentially increase the need for responsible gambling resources.

With over 8 million adults in the state, around 200,000-300,000 may experience some problem gambling characteristics. This figure does not include affected family members. As more citizens gain easy access through North Carolina sports betting apps, the state needs scalable solutions.

When asked if North Carolina has enough problem gambling professionals before online launches, NCDHHS responded that problematic gambling occurs on a continuum, requiring varied evidence-based supports. The statement remained general but cited expanding services and the behavioral health workforce to ensure accessibility.

Encouragingly, North Carolina sports betting legislation allocated an additional $2 million annually for problem gambling treatment, now totaling $3 million. This exceeds funds in many states. However, with increased demand expected, more resources will likely be necessary long-term.

The story featured a man named Monroe who previously had a gambling problem and now practices responsible behaviors, like setting a daily budget. He received formal treatment, something only 1% of the estimated 7 million Americans with gambling disorders obtain. Without knowing where to find help, many go untreated.

In 2022, most states allotted under $1 million towards problem gambling efforts, averaging $2.2 million. North Carolina’s $3 million exceeds average funding but still only amounts to around 38 cents per resident. Experts note funding often goes unspent, making reallocation possible after accurate need is established.

While funding has increased nationwide, some say current budgets seem more a starting point. As North Carolina sports betting launches, the state has shown encouraging funding allocations and messaging around responsible gambling. However, more resources will be necessary long-term if demand rises as predicted. Increased early success will warrant larger budgets in future years.

As more citizens gain easy access to North Carolina sports betting apps, responsible gambling messaging and treatment options offered by operators like Caesars Sportsbook North Carolina will be crucial. Though budgets appear sufficient for now, North Carolina should track demand in real-time, dedicating funds as issues arise. With a proactive approach, the state can set an example in responsible gambling efforts nationwide.

✅ Fact Checked on January 18, 2024 by Ken Weaver