The coronavirus pandemic and the questionably necessary lockdowns foisted upon a wide range of markets has simultaneously crippled and elevated the gambling industry in the United States.
For brick-and-mortar casinos forced into closure nationwide, COVID-19 has been truly crushing.
For the few states wise enough to have legalized domestic online casinos, however, the upshot has been to show just how resilient – and just how much of a safety net – the legal online gambling aspect can be.
If a state’s revenue depends upon gambling in any meaningful way, 2020 has demonstrated that such a state should take a serious look at making iGaming a reality within its borders.
Michigan got lucky with their timing, but most states are still sitting ugly.
But not everyone is on board, even in those states that already offer legal domestic iGaming.
The Delaware Council on Gambling Problems (DCGP) is very concerned:
“[Online gambling] has increased. People are left to their own devices during the lockdown, and many people have been engaging in technology and different things that they never did before to pass the time of day. So there has been an explosion in popularity of online gaming and gambling. …
Particularly among the younger folk and the millennials, these are people who really know how to access online activities, and are more comfortable doing things online, than they are going into, say, a casino or a poker game or something of that nature. And so we are finding a lot in the younger age groups that are having this problem.”
The “problem” referenced, of course, is gambling addiction, which is a serious issue.
That said, the author of the above statement, Arlene Simon, Executive Director of the DCGP, gives zero evidence of any spike in gambling addiction cases or an uptick in the financial ruin she claims is running rampant like never before.
Well, since these venues are unavailable, comfort has nothing to do with it. And if comfort did have something to do with it, COVID-19 would be an irrelevant impetus.
If you take the comments on their face, you might be worried about this trend, but you absolutely shouldn’t take the comments on their face.
Because they are nonsense.
The statement seems much more like an editorial of one person’s self-aggrandizing concerns about an emerging market’s growing popularity than it does a reflection of actual reality.
It also reads like an advertisement for services that can only exist under the current model.
Cynicism of this sort is tough to overlook.
The message here is clearly thus: “The pandemic is causing gambling addiction among our poor children!” and it follows its claims with zero proof of anything at all.
For one thing, the legal minimum gambling age to participate in domestic iGaming in DE is 21 years old.
These adults are empowered – and even expected – to work jobs, buy alcohol, drive cars, own houses, get married, have kids, and so on. They aren’t toddlers or teens.
And this drivel about “millennials”? If you’re 40 years old, you are a millennial. (Full disclosure: I’m a man, I’m 40! And that generational
label libel breaks my heart.)
So, can you be trusted to make your own entertainment and financial decisions at 40 years of age?
Oh, but we’re not allowed to posit that question. No, sir!
Per Simon, as paraphrased by the baseless original “reporting” by WDEL in Delaware:
“Judging those who are addicted as people making a choice is a flawed way of thinking.”
See? You don’t gamble because it’s a choice.
The real reason? Again, per Simon:
“Many people…think that gambling is a moral failure, but they don’t realize that it is an actual brain disease.”
Uh, no. No, it isn’t.
Let’s quickly debunk this line of reasoning:
- Gambling is a choice, because it constitutes a voluntary decision. That’s the literal definition of “choice.” English still means something.
- Gambling is not a moral failure. There is nothing morally or ethically wrong with the pastime. Agency still means something.
- Gambling is not an “actual brain disease.” It is an activity. Medical science still means something.
To be clear, gambling addiction is a problem that can negatively affect the gambler, their friends, and their families in very real ways.
But one thing gambling addiction isn’t is some automatic ailment or disease that you’re going to randomly catch and which you cannot control.
Essentially, Simon’s is a baseless strategy of fearmongering that preys on people’s concerns about a legitimate compulsion that, in some cases, proves destructive.
But the vast majority of gamblers aren’t gambling addicts, the same way that the vast majority of drinkers aren’t alcoholics.
Frankly, if there were any truth to this reporting (though we hesitate to call it that), some numbers would be provided.
We are told that more “younger folk” are gambling, and we’re told that gambling is bad, but we aren’t given anything to measure the claims against. No data from 2019, no data from 2020. Compelling stuff!
Thus, a critical view of the claims renders it unfounded.
Then, there’s the fact that online gambling at legitimate casinos has long been legal in most of the country via offshore or international websites, and these sites accept adult players at 18 years of age.
The American Gambling Association estimates that 97% of all gambling goes through these legal, non-state channels.
Thus, if you are 18 or older and wish to gamble, you can do so safely and responsibly by playing online with international operators.
These sites all have self-exclusion policies exactly in line with retail domestic operators, and they do not extend credit to any player, so you can’t gamble with money you don’t have.
In most cases, these sites also prefer that you deposit with Bitcoin, so you don’t even have to use a credit card and incur any potential debt thereof.
That’s something that domestic options – even those in the very empathetic Delaware – don’t let you do.
The main thing, from our perspective, is individual empowerment.
In the Year of Fear™ that is 2020, you should not let more government bureaucrats tell you what you should or should not be doing, especially after they’ve shut down your life, locked you in your home, and then have the unmitigated gall to decry the few solitary pleasures you can scrounge up to pass the time with your mind intact.
Gambling is your choice, and you are free to make it.
If you don’t wish to become addicted to the pastime, there are very easy steps you can take, and abstinence isn’t a particularly good one. Like many things, gambling is fun. Like many things, take it too far and it isn’t.
You can do this by following this two simple rules:
- Never bet more than you can afford to lose.
- Never gamble with non-disposable income.
For everything else, have at it, and we’ll see you at the digital felts!
If you suffer from gambling addiction – or know somebody who does – you can get help. But we’d advise reaching out to a less opportunistic agency than Simon’s, like 1-800-GAMBLER or the National Council on Problem Gambling (1-800-522-4700). They’re not as apt to use the coronavirus as a tasteless ad campaign for their services.