The United States is facing a slew of major problems. If you ask anyone what those problems are the answers are likely to be related to COVID, climate change, and inflation. Few people are talking about gambling as a major issue right now but the truth of the matter is Americans have a growing problem with gambling and it is not going away anytime soon.
Over the past few years gambling has slowly made its way into the mainstream of the American consciousness. Before, gambling was relegated to Las Vegas and the odd casino on the edge of town. People had to take out cash, make the trip, sit down and put their money on the table to gamble. Most were content to let the gamblers congregate inside smokey gaming halls out of view. Today, gambling is much easier, and more insidious, than ever before. Yet, no one wants to talk about it.
Gambling revenue is on track to set an all-time record. According to Forbes, gambling revenue was $13.6 billion in the second quarter of 2021 alone. That marks a 22% increase over the previous best quarter set in 2019. And those numbers only reflect legal gambling. It cannot track the amount of illicit gambling going on under the table.
This explosion in revenue tied to wagering is due in part to the growing prevalence of sports gambling. Just three years ago, sports betting information was found on specific industry websites off the beaten path. People had to search out information about lines, odds, and prop bets. Today, they are on the morning radio, they are plastered over the home pages of every major sports outlet. Nearly every conversation about sports in America today will feature talk about the betting odds in any given segment.
Caesar's Sportsbook has been investing heavily in advertising to get the word out that people can bet on games right from their phones. They have put out promotional codes enticing people with bonuses and free money. Caesar's Sportsbook even managed to land the Manning family as bold new partners for their enterprise.
Florida just passed a law allowing citizens to bet on sports which continues to clear legal hurdles. The Seminole Tribe runs all of the legal gaming in Florida and put out their own app inviting people to gamble from the comfort of their own homes.
Sports betting, table games, casino expansions, and gambling apps are all emerging at the same time as a massive movement of casual cryptocurrency speculators. Cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin and Dogecoin have become the hottest new way to speculate and it is attracting millions of people.
Experts have recently started to raise concerns that cryptocurrency speculation is a form of gambling addiction. Digital currency is notoriously volatile.
Despite the risks and the volatility, 13% of Americans wagered on crypto this year. That is 33.5 million people in the US alone that decided to invest in a highly volatile currency with the hopes of making it big. That number is only slated to rise. The popular trading app Robinhood claims it has over a million people waiting for access to their new cryptocurrency wallet feature.
Proponents of crypto investments have said that betting on cryptocurrency is no different than investing in a stock. The difference is stocks at least are an ownable portion of a real company. Cryptocurrencies are largely unregulated and new coins appear on the market all the time. People are not getting any tangible physical goods when investing in crypto. It is akin to changing your money into casino chips, putting them on the table, and hoping that you can cash out after market forces completely out of their control ups their money - or not. More and more experts are starting to agree that this behavior is not at all dissimilar to traditional gambling.
There is a lot of money in gambling and there is even more in cryptocurrency. Most people are not making it rich on either but the ones running the casinos and the currency exchanges are making legitimate steady income. As long as casinos and trading firms continue to make steady legitimate income on the backs of people speculating and gambling, the problem will continue to persist and seep into the mainstream.
None of these trends are slowing down or changing course. Gambling is projected to continue to rise in the coming years alongside larger numbers of people willing to invest their money in speculative cryptocurrencies. Taken altogether it is not hard to see that Americans are starting to have a gambling problem. And no one wants to talk about it.