To the north, the gates to sports gambling have opened.
“I think it’s a good idea, like any other piece of gambling as long as people don’t abuse it,” said John Porubic of Holyoke, Massachusetts.
On Tuesday, Mass. became the fourth New England state to allow sports gambling.
“This is a massive social transformation of America,” said Declan Hill, associate professor at the University of New Haven. “It’s almost equivalent to the end of prohibition in 1933.”
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Hill believes one of the most significant changes is the entry of online sports betting, given how easy it is for people to partake.
“They call it frictionless gambling,” Hill said.
Connecticut residents have been able to participate in online casino gaming and mobile sports betting since late 2021, changing the landscape of those placing the most bets.
“We also used to think that the problem gambler was the little old lady at the slot machine – now it’s not, it’s the 20-something year old male gambling on sports,” said Diana Goode of the CT Council on Problem Gambling.
Neither Goode nor Hill said they opposed sports betting, if done with caution.
But while acknowledging the risks, Connecticut has seen significant revenue generated since the first online sports bet was made in October 2021. According to state data, Connecticut has collected roughly $16 million in online sports wagering.
“You’re just like watching it and you’re like maybe I want to actually have skin in the game, maybe it just makes things more interesting,” said Trinity College junior Luke Terry.
Goode said that while sports betting is the hot topic, it’s the online casino gaming that’s really gained traction.
“People are on DraftKings, FanDuel, sports betting and now maybe you’re season’s over and now you’re still on the app and you’re looking around to see what else is there, and the online casino is there,” Goode said.
The numbers reflect the interest. Since 2021, state data reveals that online casino gaming has brought in roughly $47 million.
“It might be a little too easy,” Terry said. “Honestly, it probably is a little too easy just to be able to pull out your phone and be like, ‘Oh $10 right there,' so I think it’s probably not for everybody.”
Connecticut offers a number of programs for those in need of help, including self-exclusion, which allows a person to willingly not be allowed to gamble in Connecticut.
That said, with sports betting now legal in all three neighboring states, the danger of skirting that exclusion is greater, and that’s something the CT Council on Problem Gambling is hoping to address.
“One of the things we’re working on is regional self-exclusion for all of New England, so if you’re excluding online in Connecticut, you’re also excluding in Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New York,” Goode said.
Those seeking help with a gambling problem should call 888-789-7777.