California Online Sports Betting Foes Say New Study Affirms Youth Gambling Concerns

Written By Matthew Kredell on July 30, 2022 - Last Updated on August 2, 2022
California online sports betting PEW

As legal and regulated sports betting spreads across the country, the increased exposure of the activity could be impacting high school students. Opponents of California online sports betting Proposition 27 point to recent research.

Stateline, a publication of the nonprofit Pew Charitable Trusts, covered the issue in an article titled “As Sports Betting Grows, States Tackle Teenage Gambling Problem.”

The National Council of Problem Gambling indicates that between 60% to 80% of high school students report having gambled for money in the past year. The council considers 4% to 6% of high schoolers to be addicted to gambling.

“We believe that the risks for gambling addiction overall have grown 30% from 2018 to 2021, with the risk concentrated among young males 18 to 24 who are sports bettors,” said Keith Whyte, NCPG executive director.

In 2018, the US Supreme Court overturned the Professional and Amateur Sports Betting Protection Act. Since then, the number of states with regulated sports betting has grown from one (Nevada) to more than 30.

Study aligns with messaging from CA online sports betting opponents

The study is consistent with recent advertisements from the Coalition for Safe, Responsible Gaming against Prop. 27. The Coalition sent out the Stateline article in a press release.

The California sports betting proposition would legalize online and mobile sports wagering with a limited number of big sportsbook operators. Each sportsbook operator would need to partner with an Indian tribe.

“This new study validates what we’ve been saying since Day 1: Online gambling is especially dangerous for kids and teens,” said Kathy Fairbanks, spokesperson for the coalition. “If Prop 27 passes, California will see higher rates of problem gambling among young people. That’s why youth advocates and parents are lining up against Prop 27.”

The Coalition for Safe, Responsible Gaming isn’t against sports betting as a whole. It’s the same coalition of tribes that supports Proposition 26. That proposition would allow for sports betting in person at tribal casinos and horse racetracks.

The coalition’s most recent ad, released in English and Spanish, is titled “Addictive.”

Both competing ballot initiatives would legalize sports betting only for Californians age 21 and older.

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Matthew Kredell

A fifth-generation Californian, Matthew's reporting on the legalization of sports betting began in 2010 with an article for Playboy Magazine on how the NFL was pushing US money overseas by fighting the expansion of regulated sports betting. After graduating from the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, Matt started his career as a sportswriter at the Los Angeles Daily News. He has written on a variety of topics for Playboy, Men’s Journal, Los Angeles magazine, LA Weekly and ESPN.com.

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