Study Finds Growing Number of Problem Gamblers in the State of Pennsylvania

Released by Penn State University, the report notes a significant increase in online gambling across the Keystone State, as well as increased incidence of problem gambling in 2023.
Study Finds Growing Number of Problem Gamblers in the State of Pennsylvania
April 19, 2024

Penn State University recently released a study named “Pennsylvania Interactive Gaming Assessment” which focused on the number of online gambling participants in this regulated gaming market in 2023.

Compared to just a year earlier, the numbers have increased significantly, with a total of 16% of all adults in Pennsylvania reporting being involved in online gambling, a steep increase from 11.1% reported in 2022.

The growth in overall online gambling participation has led to higher revenue for the operators but also a higher number of reported cases of problem gambling.

Significant Online Gambling Growth in the Keystone State

Looking into the past, we can see that the number of those playing online gambling games did not rise much between 2021 and 2022, with the stat barely going up to 11.1% in 2022 from 11% in 2021.

However, 2023 was a big year for PA online gambling sites, with nearly 5% of additional adults across the state getting involved for the first time.

Pennsylvania is one of the biggest online gambling markets in the US, with a number of igaming operators, including the likes of DraftKings, BetMGM, WSOP US, and PokerStars US all offering their various services to its residents.

The Penn State University study went into further detail on the nature of online gambling in Pennsylvania, and revealed that retail gamblers are less likely to gamble often than those who gamble both live and online, and that the so-called “dual mode” gamblers spend as much as seven times more on gambling each month.

What’s even more, the study discovered that the average age of an individual getting involved in both online and retail gambling is 37, and their average income around $50,000.

The study was aimed at helping those in charge help make online gambling in Pennsylvania safer for everyone, with lead author Glenn Sterner saying: “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.”

Problem Gambling Also on the Rise

The growing number of participants in online gambling and the growing revenue for the operators also means a growing concern about the safety of online gambling in Pennsylvania.

Back in 2022, 36.7% of those who were involved in online gambling reported at least one gambling related problem, and that number grew to 40.7% in 2023. Combined with a growing number of online gamblers overall, this presents a significant increase.

In comparison, only 16.7% of offline gamblers reported gambling problems, as it seems the effects of retail gambling are less impactful on individuals.

Bearing in mind the significance of problem gambling, Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs Secretary Dr. Latika Davis-Jones said: “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. It will also help us to spread awareness that treatment and resources, like the 1-800-GAMBLER helpline, are there when someone needs help.”

Fortunately, it appears Pennsylvania is doing a pretty good job of providing affected players with the necesarry tools to battle problem gambling, as 75% of those who reported gambling problems related to online gambling also reported getting them treated.

The number fades a bit when talking about dual mode gamblers, only 57% of whom reported treating their gambling problems in 2023, leaving room for improvement moving forward.

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