New Study - Sports Betting & Online Gambling Statistics, Trends

May 7, 2024

A new study called the “Pennsylvania Interactive Gaming Assessment,” based on research by Penn State University, offers insights into the state's gambling patterns as a microcosm of the nationwide surge in sports betting and online gaming. This report focusing on 2023 as a whole sheds light on the escalating popularity of gambling and its ramifications. Let’s explore the key findings from the study.

Notable Results from Research Study in Pennsylvania

Prevalence of Gambling

The first goal of this annual report was to establish the prevalence of online gambling in the state. The numbers speak for themselves.

Online gambling in Pennsylvania remained steady at 11% in 2021 and 2022 but rose considerably to 16% in 2023. 65% of Pennsylvania residents gambled in some form in 2023. Almost 49% of the total population exclusively gambled offline, 2.3% exclusively gambled online and 14% engaged in both. 

The 14% “dual-mode gamblers” who engaged in both offline and online gambling were among the individuals who gambled the most often, about once per week, and they also spent the most money per month on gambling – $708. 

Speaking of money, Pennsylvania’s online gambling revenue spiked by 27% in 2023, raking in $2.1 billion. Out of the possible online gambling formats, sports betting was the most popular type, as 9.4% of the Pennsylvania population placed a bet on online sports in 2023. However, it was iGaming – comprised of interactive slots, interactive table games, and online poker – that brought in the most online revenues ($1.5 billion)

Demographics of Gamblers

Online gambling experienced a notable spike in Pennsylvania in 2023, so let’s break down the cohorts of people contributing to it. The average age for Pennsylvania online-exclusive gamblers is 33 years old, with a majority (76.9%) being male and 53.4% being white. Looking further, 66% of online gamblers are single, 62% are employed, 44% received a bachelor’s degree or higher education and 39.5% made $50,000 or less income per year. 

White, single, employed men in their early 30s make up the largest cohort of online gamblers.

Motivations and Related Behaviors

Regardless of the group an individual belongs to in this study (online-exclusive gamblers, offline-exclusive gamblers & dual-mode gamblers), the two most popular gambling motivations are entertainment purposes and winning money. Just under 32% of the online-exclusive gamblers polled in this study said their primary motivation for gambling is to win money, making it the most popular answer for this group. For those who gamble online and offline, the most popular response is for entertainment (42.4%), which is the single most popular answer from any of the groups. 

Online-exclusive and dual-mode gamblers reported higher responses of escape and stress relief as their primary motivation for gambling, as opposed to offline-exclusive gamblers. Online-exclusive gamblers also emerged as the most likely to gamble alone, which is unsurprising given the ease and generally cellphone-based nature of it. 

Problem Gambling Behaviors / Gambling Addiction 

Online gambling, either exclusively or partially, contributes most to problem gambling in Pennsylvania. In fact, 40.7% of online-exclusive gamblers, compared to 16.7% of offline-exclusive gamblers, indicated one “problem gambling” characteristic. Just over half of dual-mode gamblers indicated a problem gambling trait. 

Those who gamble online, and especially those who participate in both forms of gambling, are less likely to find success controlling their gambling than those who gamble exclusively offline. Finally, online-exclusive and dual-mode gamblers are more likely to contact the helpline 1-800-GAMBLER than offline-exclusive gamblers (14.4% & 9.3% vs 1.3%). 

Implications of Study

The six characteristics most likely predicting problem gambling are younger age, frequent gambling, greater spending on gambling, the primary motivation for gambling as a means to escape, relax, or relieve stress, solitary gambling and membership in a gambling loyalty or rewards program. 

Online-exclusive gamblers are the youngest demographic in the study, the most likely to report gambling as a means to escape and gamble in solitary, while dual-mode gamblers reported more frequent gambling and spending. 

Online gambling may still be a minority practice in PA compared to offline types like lottery and in-person casino (slots, table games, poker), but it is on the rise and contributing to far more problem gambling cases than those who gamble offline exclusively. The combination of online and offline gambling can be dangerous, as several formats and options entice bettors every day. This report serves as a reminder of why targeted education on the risks of gambling is crucial.  

Gambling Addiction Resources & Treatment in PA

Beyond the apparent need for more sources of educational resources focused on the risks of gambling, there is also the need for resources for treatment against problem gambling. For individuals in PA or anywhere else across the country, struggling with control of gambling habits through online and offline channels, seeking help is vital. 

Birches Health offers specialized online treatment options for individuals who may be struggling with problem gambling-related behaviors or gambling addiction. With experienced counselors and customized care plans, Birches provides a supportive environment for recovery. Confidentiality, security, and convenience are ensured, with many patients benefiting from zero out-of-pocket costs. 

Sources:

Penn State-led report reveals gambling participation increases in Pennsylvania 

https://www.ddap.pa.gov/Documents/Agency%20Publications/2023%20Online%20Gambling%20Report.pdf

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