April 5, 2023 3 min read


Pennsylvania’s Problem Gambler Numbers Go Up Since 2019

The legalization of online gambling in the Keystone State has seen more people in their 20s and 30s seek help

Pennsylvania has been doing well in terms of the amount of sports betting handle it has been bringing in. Online gambling activities such as iGaming have thrived, but one problem has continued to mount – the number of people who step forward and seek help for gambling problems has also increased.

Calls to Gambling Helpline in Pennsylvania Jump in 2022

In 2022, around 11% of all state residents gambled online, with sports betting as the most popular form of gambling. An annual survey by the state’s Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs looked into the specificity of the activities, establishing that sports gambling was the most popular form of betting.

The profile of the average online gambler in Pennsylvania was a married white male in their 30s, earning at least $50,000 a year. Sports gambling is listed as a hobby by many of the respondents. The 14 websites that are allowed to operate sports gambling products bring in some $1.2 billion a year in profit as well.

Since 2019, the number of people seeking help with 1-800-GAMBLER, a hotline established to help out gamblers nip gambling-related problems in the bud. The calls in 2022 increased to 2,621 compared to 1,134 when the program was only starting.

But there is an argument to be made for this increase as well. In 2019, gambling wasn’t as popular – nor was the option to seek help when you needed it. The legalization of sports gambling does not seem to have only a negative impact, as a lot of the traffic going offshore and illegal gambling sites has been stemmed.

Even then, though, part of the increase undeniably has to do with the increase in sports gambling availability – along with online casino activities. Another study was also used to establish how the different gambling activities impacted people. Some 23% of all callers for example in the period 2021-2022 said that slots were the activity they had the biggest problem with, the research argued based its numbers on interviews.

Better Awareness for Helpline Gambling Services

Council on Compulsive Gambling of Pennsylvania executive director Josh Ercole acknowledged that there is better awareness of the helpline as well. One in four people who gambled said that they had tried to cut their gambling down – at least in the latest study conducted by the Department.

Around 10% admitted that they had gambled more than they had intended to or wanted to. Overall, problem gambling remains an open-ended question, with legislators, consumer groups, and helplines continuing to monitor the activity closely to prevent it from spiralling out of control.


Although Fiona doesn't have a long-spanning background within the gambling industry, she is an incredibly skilled journalist who has built a strong interest in the constantly growing iGaming network. The team at GamblingNews.com is glad to have her on our roster to help deliver the best stories as soon as they hit. Aside from writing, she loves to dabble in online casino games such as slots and roulette, both for her own enjoyment and also as research to better improve her understanding of the industry.

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