Problem gambling funding in Washington, DC, is about to be no more.
On Tuesday, the DC Council voted to preliminarily approve Mayor Muriel Bowser‘s fiscal 2024 budget, which strips out annual funds set aside for problem gambling services.
Problem gambling funds are tax dollars set aside from bettors using any of the DC sportsbooks available. If Bowser’s 2024 budget is fully approved, problem gambling services will lose $200,000 annually.
Gambling stakeholders are speaking out
Following the announcement, multiple gaming organizations have raised concerns about the problem gambling budget cuts. Gambling operators and organizations that have spoken out include:
- National Council on Problem Gambling
- Sports Betting Alliance
- American Gaming Association
Bowser’s plan to strip the annual $200,000 comes as no surprise to those paying close attention to the District. To date, DC has accumulated $600,000 in funds for problem gambling but has opted to use none of it for programs through the DC Department of Behavioral Health.
In April, Jeremy Kudon of the Sports Betting Alliance wrote a letter to DC’s Committee on Health, saying:
“Legal and regulated sports betting operators provide tools and resources to help players manage their gaming habits and prevent problem gaming, including self-limits on the amount of time spent on the platform, caps on account deposit and betting amounts, and exclusion all together from the app.
In addition, legal and regulated sports betting operators have dedicated Player Protection teams to support the monitoring of user accounts for potential problem gaming behavior and language.”
Chris Cylke, Senior VP at the AGA, said in a post by the Legal Sports Report, that the organization would work with other stakeholders in the market to reverse Bowser’s proposal. “Unfortunately, this is only the latest misstep by the DC Government in their effort to offer a viable legal sports betting market.
The AGA will work with other stakeholders to ensure the District makes good on their obligation to provide problem gambling resources, as well as continue to highlight the need for a competitive mobile marketplace that will increase revenue to fund these important commitments.”
Other states are skirting responsible gambling aid too
DC isn’t the first jurisdiction to hoard its problem gambling funds. In 2020, the Responsible Gambling Collaborative issued a report showing states not correctly using funds allocated for problem gambling issues.
Out of 14 states studied, the following four did not spend the assigned tax money assigned on responsible gambling issues:
DC sports betting revenue is more than enough to help responsible gambling
According to data by the DC Lottery, in April, GamBetDC generated $5.9 million in sports betting handle, translating to $720,536 in revenue.
April numbers are down slightly from March when GamBetDC generated $6.5 million in handle and over $860,000 in revenue. However, March’s sports betting success was a product of the NCAA Basketball tournaments.