For states looking to profit off the new world of legal sports betting, there’s an app for that. The question for state lawmakers: Should they allow it?
As state legislatures across the U.S. decide whether to authorize sports gambling, lawmakers are debating whether the bets — like almost everything else in daily life — should be allowed to happen online or made only in-person.
Among their 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.
The debate was on display this past week in Rhode Island, where the Legislature sent a bill to the governor that expands the state’s sports betting law by allowing wagers to take place online.
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.”
She wants the state to launch a public awareness campaign to educate people about the signs of gambling addiction and to dedicate sports betting revenue to help problem gamblers. Tanzi also said that any mobile app designed to take sports bets should include information about how people can get help if they are developing an addiction.