Vermont Launches Problem Gambling Support Website | Politics | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

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Vermont Launches Problem Gambling Support Website


Published July 2, 2024 at 5:18 p.m.

  • Sean Metcalf

Six months after Vermont legalized sports betting, the state has a new website that is intended to help people who have developed gambling problems. invites people to "choose to change your game." It offers a live chat function and a number to call for help: 1-800-GAMBLER. Users can also visit the website to find information about the signs of problem gambling and treatment options.

Run by the state Department of Mental Health, the website directs people to Vermont’s voluntary self-exclusion program. The opt-in registry allows people to ban themselves from sports betting, either permanently or for a set period of time.

Eight people are currently on the list, according to Charles Martin, a spokesperson for the Department of Liquor and Lottery, up from two in March.

“I think any state that's going to offer a lawful [sports-betting] market should have services like this,” Martin told Seven Days. “I don't know that you can do one without the other, so I think it's essential.”
Before Vermont passed a legal sports-betting law in 2023, a lobbyist told lawmakers that an estimated 11,600 Vermonters were problem gamblers. People must be 21 or over to wager.

"Research is very clear that any time you introduce a new form of gambling in a jurisdiction, you ... will increase the number of problems," Brianne Doura-Schawohl, a lobbyist for the Washington, D.C.-based National Council on Problem Gambling, said in 2022.

It's unclear how many Vermonters are now considered problem gamblers. When online sports betting launched in January, some 52,000 people used one — or more — of the three virtual gambling services offered in Vermont. By the end of May, there were about 27,700 active users in the state, according to Department of Liquor and Lottery data. Big sporting events, such as the Super Bowl in February and the March Madness college basketball tournament, typically draw more bets.
The state receives about one-third of all money the sportsbooks win in Vermont, which amounted to $3.5 million as of the end of June. That tracks with estimates that Vermont would make about $7 million in taxes during the first year of legal sports betting. Liquor and Lottery Department data indicate that people in Vermont have wagered around $91 million since January.

State law appropriated $250,000 for the Department of Mental Health to use to establish and administer problem gambling resources; the website is a part of that. The department also plans to use the money to create and launch media campaigns promoting the gambling helpline and to build a statewide team of clinicians who can treat people with gambling-related problems.

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