Penn State’s Survey Finds 30% of Pennsylvania Gamblers Admit Addiction



  • Penn State University’s survey showed over 30% admitted to gambling problem
  • Survey showed calls to state’s compulsive gambling hotline doubled in three years
  • Slots offered the biggest problem for hotline callers

In a recent survey by Penn State University, over 30% of gamblers from Pennsylvania admitted they suffer from a gambling addiction. With roughly $1.4 billion in profits, the PA online gambling market in Pennsylvania has become huge business but opens the door to a dramatic increase in problem gambling. 

In the study, 25% bettors from Pennsylvania had taken steps to reduce their amount of online gambling over the past 12 months. Roughly 10% admitted they had played with amounts of money beyond their means and felt the desire to wager more to grab the same feelings they had when they first started gambling online.

Around one out of every 20 respondents, roughly 5%, said they had become overwhelmed with online gambling.

Penn State’s survey occurs annually as required by law, helping lawmakers and regulators get a sense of problem gambling within the state’s population.

Survey Identifies Pennsylvania’s Most Common Gambler

The study, funded by the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board, found that roughly 11% of all Pennsylvania citizens placed an online wager over the past 12 months.

They found the typical bettor from the Keystone State was a married white male in his 30s, employed with a bachelor’s degree education, and making over $50,000 per year in salary. These individuals prefer sports betting for entertainment and live primarily in southwest Pennsylvania.

These bettors place their sports betting wagers online. Respondents preferred sports betting, but also frequently played online slots and online fantasy sports.

Pennsylvania’s Responsible Gambling Initiatives Hope to Stem Problem Gambling

The PGCB has upped their efforts to stem problem gambling by introducing a series of new responsible gambling advertisements and the creation of a website to help bettors recognize the signs of betting addiction.

The board has recently cracked down on persuasive language in advertisements and fined sportsbooks for allowing players on the self-exclusion list to place wagers. Over $60,000 in fines were handed out in late-March as the PGCB found that three sportsbooks accepted wagers from individuals that had placed themselves on the voluntary exclusion lists.

Under laws governing the PA sports betting market, betting establishments cannot take a wager if a player’s name has been placed on the list.

The state’s gambling addiction hotline also reported calls have doubled over the past three years for their service with the median age for callers going from individuals around 50 years of age to individuals typically from 25-to-30-years of age. 

The new responsible gaming initiatives hope to help bettors set healthy limits for their wagering and significantly reduce the chances of creating problematic betting behavior that could lead to addiction.

Derek Blake is a freelance writer that has covered the expansion of legal sports betting in America and the regional casino business for several well-known industry websites. During his writing career, he has written profiles on dozens of athletes and focused on the collision of sports and politics.