When it comes to problem gambling, only 2% of West Virginia respondents say they gambled once a week or more.
And while gambling once a week or more does not equate to problem gambling, it does help bring awareness to the situation.
March was Problem Gambling Awareness Month. Now that West Virginia sports betting is legal and online casinos in West Virginia are on the way, it is important to recognize that gambling can be problematic for some.
The National Center for Problem Gambling (NCPG) released a survey analyzing national gambling attitudes and experiences.
The NCPG commissioned the national study “to examine the prevalence rates of various forms of gambling.”
The online survey used a sample of 3,000 respondents nationwide as well as in each individual state with most of those questioning about 500 people. The survey was conducted in November and was offered in English and Spanish.
The survey shows sports betting has become a more popular pastime in recent decades. It also states many still view it as a form of entertainment that can become an addiction, even though only a small percentage gamble on a weekly basis.
The study not only includes national findings but also results for each U.S. state.
West Virginia sports betting trends
It’s probably no surprise that professional football is the most bet on sport in West Virginia. According to the survey, 65% of sports bettors bet on football in the last year. College football wasn’t too far behind with 54% of bettors laying down a wager.
Other sports West Virginians enjoy betting on are:
- Pro basketball – 35%
- College basketball – 29%
- Baseball 21%
- Golf – 9%
- Ice hockey – 6%
Now the ways West Virginians bet might surprise you. Betting with family and friends is by far the most popular method at 89%. Following that method is online sports betting at 58%.
That is an interesting statistic since online sports betting didn’t launch in the state until Dec. 2018. Currently, mobile sports betting in West Virginia is closed for business and there is no timeline for its return.
It is no surprise that illegal sports betting is a huge business in the US. Legalizing and regulating sports betting has to power to curtail it.
Additionally, it’s important to note, the majority of the people in the survey agree that setting aside money to educate the public on the characteristics of a problem gambler, and more importantly how to get help.
West Virginia gambling at a glance
A look at gambling in the Mountain State showed West Virginians fell in line, for the most part, with nationwide respondents.
Here’s a look at West Virginia gamblers over the last year:
- Engaged in any form of gambling – 77%
- Playing any West Virginia Lottery game – 72%
- Traditional sports betting – 20%
- Fantasy sports – 15%
- Dog or horse racing – 12%
- Gambling of any type online or on a mobile device – 18%
Another interesting statistic coming from the survey is that more than half of West Virginians have never spent money at a casino. That goes for gambling and all other types of spending.
Gambling draws strong opinions
Despite the small percentage admitting to gambling once a week or more, many Americans have some strong opinions on the activity and believe it can be a problem with more help needed to deter it. A few key takeaways among all respondents include:
- 75% believe addiction to gambling is a lot like addiction to drugs or alcohol.
- 63% believe the gambling industry should do more to help people with a gambling addiction.
Those two figures seem in contrast when considering a question in the survey asking if respondents viewed gambling as immoral. Only 13% believed it was immoral and 57% disagreeing and 30% seeing the activity as neutral.
When it comes to problem gambling, 85% view an addictive personality as a likely root cause and 78% see not having enough will power also as a likely cause.
Get help for problem gambling in WV
Problem gambling can be devastating to families, however, and there are services available to those in need. Many casinos and sportsbooks offer the option of “self-exclusion” – in essence banning oneself from a property.
The Problem Gamblers Help Network of West Virginia also offers help to those who believe they have a problem, and these are a few signs someone has a problem:
- You’ve tried unsuccessfully to cut back or quit.
- After losing money, you return as soon as possible to get even.
- Lie to family members and friends about gambling.
- Need to bet more money each time you gamble.
- Gambling helps you escape your problems.
Network Program Director Jennifer Davis-Walton recently commented to the WVMetroNews.com:
“For most people, it (gambling) is a form of entertainment, but for those that develop the problem, that’s who we want to reach. We want to let them know that there is help, there is hope, and there is recovery.”
Those who need help are asked to call 1-800-GAMBLER.