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Problem Gambling Awareness Month (PGAM) for Policymakers

24/7, Confidential, and Multilingual Problem Gambling HelpLine: 888-ADMIT-IT

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Shine the Light on Problem Gambling:
888-ADMIT-IT
Fills in the Blanks!

The Florida Council on Compulsive Gambling (FCCG) chose its Problem Gambling Awareness Month (PGAM) campaign tagline this year to highlight the fact that for those impacted, problem gambling calls everything into question. Is my gambling problem treatable? Is recovery from gambling addiction possible? Are we going to make ends meet?

In Florida, the first step to filling in the blanks left by problem gambling – for gamblers and loved ones – is contacting the 24/7, Confidential, and Multilingual 888-ADMIT-IT HelpLine!

As a policymaker in the Sunshine State, you may also have important questions like:

How many Floridians contact 888-ADMIT-IT for help with a gambling problem? What are the trends?

What is the difference between 888-ADMIT-IT and 1-800-GAMBLER?

How does Florida compare to other states for both economic impact from gambling and dedicated resources for problem and compulsive gambling?

Do all of Florida’s gambling operators participate in the state’s Problem Gambling Prevention Program?

Does the Florida Lottery contribute to the issue of problem gambling in Florida?

Florida’s Problem Gambling Prevention Program:
FACT or FICTION?

As part of our 2024 PGAM campaign, the FCCG is filling in the blanks for Florida’s policymakers as well. Just as myths and misconceptions stigmatize and work against those in need of assistance for gambling disorder, misbeliefs about how problem gambling impacts Floridians – and how the issue is (and isn’t) funded – handicap Florida’s compulsive or addictive gambling prevention program in keeping pace with Florida’s rapid gambling expansion.

Hover over (or tap) each card below to reveal whether each statement is FACT or FICTION. Then, click the “Learn More” button to read more below about each topic.

FACT
Over the last 20 years, the number of Floridians seeking problem gambling help or information through the 888-ADMIT-IT HelpLine have exponentially increased by 583%.
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FACT
Florida callers with out-of-state area codes dialing National HelpLine #’s such as 1-800-GAMBLER will be re-routed to the wrong state.
FACT
The Florida Compulsive or Addictive Gambling Prevention Program was created in 2005, in direct response to the major expansion of slot machine gambling passed by statewide referendum for Broward and Miami-Dade counties.
Learn More
FACT
To-date, Florida’s Compulsive Gambling Prevention Program has never been fully funded, and has also never received more than $1.25 million annually out of the $2 million paid, and sometimes far less than even that.
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FACT
NONE of other 39 state licensed pari-mutuel gambling facilities or card room operators in Florida are required to participate in or fund the Compulsive Gambling Prevention Program.
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FACT
National Research [1] reveals that 79% of Florida adults report making a bet in the past year.
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FACT
The average American gambler bets on
3 different activities.
FACT
The average Florida gambler bets on
6 different activities.
FACT
In Florida, 12% more slot players reported
gambling on electronic gaming machines at ILLEGAL OPERATING LOCATIONS than that of the national average.
FACT
Florida is one of the top 23 states with the highest percentage of past year lottery play; 74% of Florida adults reported a past year lottery purchase.
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FACT
In 2011, all funding for statewide problem gambling prevention programming provided by the Florida Lottery since 1988 was completely eliminated, with funding provided through 551.118, F.S. also reduced by >60% that year.
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FACT
The Per Capita Average across the U.S. was $0.40; Florida’s per capita public funding allocation for problem gambling services was $0.06.
Learn More


[1] NCPG (2021). National survey on gambling attitudes and gambling experience (NGAGE). Detailed report of Florida.

[2] NAADGS (2021). 2021 Survey of Publicly Funded Problem Gambling Services in the United States. July, 2022.

Florida’s Compulsive and Addictive Gambling Prevention Program: Needs & Recommendations in Light of Recent Historic Expansion

It is essential to note the current problem gambling services needs and recommendations in the State of Florida, as evidenced by both national research, as well as data collection from the Florida Council on Compulsive Gambling’s (FCCG) 24/7 problem gambling HelpLine 888-ADMIT-IT, as outlined below.

It is incumbent upon Florida’s policymakers to recognize that that all of the research and data that follows, was conducted and collected PRIOR to the largest gambling expansion in the state’s history that occurred this year, with the introduction of retail sportsbooks and new casino table games (e.g. craps and roulette), plus the relaunch of online sports betting in late 2023, all making history as Florida became the largest state in the country to offer sports betting in casinos.


The Florida Council on Compulsive Gambling, Inc. (FCCG) has a longstanding history in the state, and more than three decades of experience in the gambling addiction field. The FCCG’s primary mission is to increase public awareness about problem and compulsive gambling and to advocate for, and provide services and supports to individuals in need of assistance for a gambling problem. The FCCG maintains a neutral stance on the issue of legalized gambling while also seeking to assist citizens in need of problem-gambling-specific supports.

The FCCG operates the statewide Problem Gambling HelpLine service 888-ADMIT-IT, providing free, confidential, and multilingual problem gambling assistance via telephone call, text message, email, and live chat available on the FCCG’s website (gamblinghelp.org) to thousands of contacts each year, from gamblers and their loved ones, to professionals and affected others.

DOWNLOAD “FLORIDA’S GAMBLING ADDICTION PROGRAM INFO SHEET – 2024”

HelpLine Contacts Have Increased More Than 100% Since December 2023

The FCCG is already feeling significant impacts in both the severity of the problems reported on the 888-ADMIT-IT HelpLine, as well as in help seeker volume, with a more than 100% increase in HelpLine contacts received since December 2023. Florida’s citizens are in desperate need of increased funding and resources for this issue!

However, before addressing additional problem gambling-related impacts that Florida citizens could also experience due to inadequate funding provided for this issue by any pending legislation that has recently been filed, it is necessary to first discuss the critical need to revamp Florida’s Compulsive or Addictive Gambling Prevention Program, which has not been updated since it was first created in 2005.

[IMAGE] Historic Gambling Expansion in Florida
[IMAGE] Never Fully Funded: Florida's Problem Gambling Prevention Program

Never Fully Funded: Florida’s Problem Gambling Prevention Program

The Florida Compulsive or Addictive Gambling Prevention Program was created by the Florida Legislature in 2005, in direct response to the then major expansion of slot machine gambling passed by statewide referendum for Broward and Miami-Dade counties. Eight (8) slot-licensed pari-mutuel facilities in these two counties were each mandated to pay a $250,000.00 annual non-refundable regulatory fee to fund the compulsive gambling program, which is widely recognized through its helpline number, 888-ADMIT-IT as required by Section 551.118, F.S. Although the required slot-licensed pari-mutuel gambling operators pay the annual compulsive gambling fees mandated by the 2005 enactment of Florida’s “Compulsive or Addictive Gambling Prevention Program” the legislature has never fully funded the Prevention Program, and instead, annually “sweeps” the dedicated Trust Fund by a minimum of $750,000, more than one/third of what is paid for this purpose.

To-date, Florida’s Compulsive or Addictive Gambling Prevention Program has never been fully funded since its inception, and has also never received more than an annual funding appropriation of $1.25 million out of the $2 million that is paid, and sometimes has received far less than even that. Florida’s problem gambling funding should not be diverted or redirected to other programming, or to the administration of such other programming. Compulsive gambling is a public health issue that in Florida, is long overdue for adequate funding supports to provide the prevention education, outreach, treatment, and research that is both vital and necessary.

Florida Ranks in Top Three States for Population and Consumer Spending on Gambling

Florida currently ranks as one of the top three states in the country for both population and for consumer spending on gambling activities. Additionally, after rapid population increases recent U.S. Census Bureau data reflects Florida as the nations’ fastest-growing state in the Country3. There continues to be documented need for increased problem gambling services and supports in the state of Florida. The funding formula for problem gambling services in Florida, however, has remained the same.

Gambling opportunities in Florida have rapidly increased throughout the years, as has the population.

In 2022, Florida made the list of top 20 commercial casino gaming markets in the United States, with Miami-Dade County coming in at #18 and reporting record revenue growth this year compared to previous year records. Total statewide commercial casino gambling revenues from the 8 state of Florida slot-licensed racinos/casinos amounted to $694.0 million, reflecting a 6.9% increase from the prior year period [AGA, 2023].

DOWNLOAD “GAMBLING & PROBLEM GAMBLING IN FLORIDA FACT SHEET – 2024”.

[3] U.S. Census Bureau 2022 Population Report (Perry, Rogers, & Wilder 2022).

[IMAGE] Florida Ranks in Top 3 States for Population and Consumer Spending on Gambling
[IMAGE] The State of Florida generated $291,409,802 of revenue in fiscal year 2022/2023 from solely state licensed commercial gambling operators.

Florida Generated $291 Million in Revenue Solely from Commercial Gambling Operators

The State of Florida generated $291,409,802 of revenue in fiscal year 2022/2023 from solely state licensed commercial gambling operators; this includes 39 pari-mutuel licensees, 27 cardroom facilities, and 8 state of Florida slot-licensed gambling operators in Broward and Miami-Dade Counties.

According to a 2022 study from the American Gaming Association, Florida ranks 4th in the Country for the economic impact it derives from casino gambling alone.

When looking at recent (and continued) gambling expansion in Florida, it is important to keep in mind the higher than national average “at-risk” rate for development of a gambling problem that exists amongst Florida’s citizens.

Floridians are at a Higher Risk for Problem Gambling

Per the latest prevalence study within the state of Florida, it is estimated that over 200,000 Floridians suffer from past-year gambling problems and 700,000 more are at risk of developing such difficulties, constituting 4.7% of the adult population ages 18 and older. When looking at the recent gambling expansion in Florida, it is also important to keep in mind the higher than national average “at-risk” rate for development of a gambling problem that exists amongst Florida’s citizens. It is further important to note that these statistics do not account for youth, who are increasingly and deceptively exposed to gambling concepts, nor do they account for the estimated 1.5 million loved ones adversely affected (i.e. for each problem gambler, 8-10 others are adversely impacted).

DOWNLOAD “GAMBLING & PROBLEM GAMBLING PREVALENCE AMONG ADULTS IN FLORIDA”
[IMAGE] Floridians are at a Higher Risk for Problem Gambling
[IMAGE] Florida's Gambling Industry Continues Rapid Growth

Florida’s Gambling Industry Continues Rapid Growth

In August 2023, Miccosukee tribe officials broke ground on the site of a new casino. The venue will feature an 8,500-square-foot entertainment space with 150 slot machines. Currently the Miccosukee Tribe does not contribute to the issue of problem gambling in the state of Florida at all.

On November 7, 2023, online sports betting, which previously began in Florida for a brief period of time in 2021 until stopped by a Supreme Court ruling, was relaunched by the Seminole Tribe through the new Hard Rock Bet mobile sports betting app, making it the only legal online sportsbook in the state.

Wagers are permitted on any professional or collegiate sport available. There are no restrictions on in-state colleges. There are very few restrictions at all when it comes to Florida sports betting, which is very concerning from a problem gambling perspective.

All problem gambling prevalence research conducted to date in the State of Florida among adolescents, college students, and adults, as well as among inmates within Florida Department of Justice facilities, identifies sports betting as a top form of gambling most often participated in by at-risk, problem, and disordered gamblers.

Research Shows College Students are a High Risk Population for Development of Disordered Gambling

While the FCCG conducted its prevalence study among college students in 2008, and gambling has expanded significantly since this time, the survey found that Florida college students then had twice the number of problem gamblers than previous adult research. In addition, college students were twice as likely to be classified as gambling addicts. More specifically, they were twice as more likely than adolescents, and four times that of adults to be disordered gamblers (referred at the time of the research as pathological gamblers). In addition, those students experiencing gambling-related problems were more likely to report abusing illegal substances (i.e. cocaine) and prescription drugs, to have more mental health disorders, and were more likely to report having relatives with gambling problems. They were also far less likely to seek help. (This is generally true, in that few adolescents and college students seek help for gambling treatment.)

It is further important to note that this independent research sponsored by the FCCG in July 2008 among Florida college students revealed that “sports-related gambling emerged as a very popular form of gambling amongst male students.” When considering the rates of participation for all three types of gambling [placing bets on professional (26.0%) and non-professional (18.1%) teams as well as participating in sports pools (17.9%)], the popularity of this pastime becomes evident. In short, in Florida in 2008 it was estimated that approximately 21,000 college students were likely experiencing “significant” gambling and gambling-related problems. Again, this was before the proliferation of various forms of gambling now accessible by this population and others.

Equally alarming is Florida college students are significantly more at-risk for developing gambling problems than adult residents (14.5% vs. 7.1%), and 5.2% of state university students are classified as problem or disordered gamblers. Based upon these findings, conducted over a decade ago, per Florida Board of Governor’s numbers of enrolled students in state universities in Florida, approximately 50,000 college students are already experiencing some of the symptoms listed in the diagnostic criteria for disordered gambling.

Additionally, sports betting was the number two form of gambling engaged in by problem and disordered college student gamblers. More specifically, 47.1% reported wagering on professional sports, 34.3% on non-professional sports games, and 33% in sports event pools. Further, among these populations, 37.4% gambled on the Internet. The same was true for adolescent gamblers, which shows these underage problem and compulsive gamblers as identifying sports betting as the number two most common form of gambling.

DOWNLOAD “GAMBLING & PROBLEM GAMBLING PREVALENCE AMONG COLLEGE STUDENTS IN FLORIDA”

Florida Becomes Largest State to Offer Sports Betting in Casinos

On December 5, 2023, Florida made history as it became the 37th state – and largest – to offer sports betting in casinos, with craps, roulette, and sports betting becoming available at three Seminole casinos in South Florida starting on December 7. Florida’s gaming compact, which allows for the expansion of casino games on tribal land, also legalizes online sports betting in Florida, to be controlled exclusively by the tribe, with profit-sharing opportunities to negotiate with pari-mutuels such as jai alai frontons, horse tracks and cardrooms to participate in the new venture.

[IMAGE] Florida Becomes Largest State to Offer Sports Betting in Casinos [IMAGE] Florida Becomes Largest State to Offer Sports Betting in Casinos

Florida’s Public Funding Allocation for Problem Gambling Services Lags Far Behind the Average at Just $0.06 Per Capita 

Over the last 20 years, the number of Floridians seeking problem gambling help or information through the 888-ADMIT-IT HelpLine have exponentially increased by 583%4. According to the National Association of Administers for Disordered Gambling Services (NAADGS) “2021 Survey of Publicly Funded Problem Gambling Services in the United States”, a report which presents the most comprehensive compilation of information on publicly funded problem gambling services in the United States, of the 28 states reporting 2021 Helpline data, Florida ranked #1 in the Country for total number of help contacts received to the 888-ADMIT-IT Problem Gambling HelpLine.

While there has been, and continues to be increased and ongoing problem gambling related demands and needs from Florida citizens statewide, necessary funding for this issue has not increased at a comparable rate. Florida ranked 34th out of 42 states in the US with specifically funded problem gambling services in 2021, according to the NAADGS Survey. The Per Capita Average across the U.S. was $0.40; Florida’s per capita public funding allocation for problem gambling services was $0.06. Further, over the past 15-years, on average, on a state-by-state comparison basis, funding for problem gambling services has increased across the Country by 29%. This growth represents an average annualized percent increase for problem gambling funding of 5% per year for other states, but not Florida.

DOWNLOAD “2021 SURVEY OF PUBLICLY FUNDED PROBLEM GAMBLING SERVICES IN THE UNITED STATES”
[IMAGE] The Per Capita Average across the U.S. was $0.40; Florida’s per capita public funding allocation for problem gambling services was $0.06.

All Florida Gambling Operators Must Contribute to the Compulsive / Addictive Gambling Prevention Program

Currently, there are not adequate participation mandates, required by all of Florida’s licensed gambling operators (e.g. pari-mutuels, cardrooms, racetracks, racinos, casinos, the Lottery, and any other legal gambling operators) in the state’s compulsive/addictive gambling prevention program.

All gambling operators in the State of Florida allowed to operate legally must be required to contribute to the aforementioned programming. It is not the inherent responsibility of just select racinos and tribal operators, but of all legal gambling establishments in the state.

*Florida Gambling Location Map from https://flgaming.gov/locations/.

Adequate Funding to Meet Problem Gambling Needs in Florida Must Be Provided

There is not adequate funding currently provided to support the needs that exist now for Florida citizens who are already suffering due to gambling problems, a need that must first be met before an increased need is then created as more gambling opportunities continue to arise.

Adequate funding for problem gambling is essential in order to meet the exponentially increasing need for help from citizens of the Sunshine State, many of such needs that are developing at a much faster rate and also with much more severe financial and other negative life consequences than historically was the case due likely in part to the ease in accessibility of gambling and increased gambling advertisements, coupled with recent and continued societal trends towards gambling normalization.

In summary, funds required and paid by slot-licensed pari-mutuel gambling operators for Florida’s Compulsive or Addictive Gambling Prevention Program pursuant to s. 551.118, should not be swept.

Adequate funding to meet current and increased problem gambling-related needs in Florida must be provided.  Equity in the provision of problem gambling services and funding must also be created by ensuring that all gambling operators in the state participate in Florida’s Compulsive or Addictive Gambling Prevention Program to provide necessary problem gambling help and support.

DOWNLOAD FCCG’s 2022-2023 888-ADMIT-IT ANNUAL HELPLINE OUTCOME EVALUATION REPORT

Problem Gambling Makes the News in Florida

Over the years, the FCCG has been routinely contacted by reporters writing stories about the impacts of problem gambling on Floridians. These days, the the Florida Council is fielding a record number of media requests as a result of gambling expansion and the resulting surge in 888-ADMIT-IT HelpLine contacts. Read the most recent stories with the links below.

[IMAGE] 02.19.24 Media Story with ABC Action News Tampa Bay

Axios Reports on Spike in 888-ADMIT-IT HelpLine Calls Following Sports Betting Legalization

February 28, 2024

Florida’s gambling addiction helpline has seen a surge in calls since Seminole Hard Rock Casino’s sports betting app launched.

Why it matters: The data is one way to gauge the immediate impact sports betting has had on gambling behavior, addiction and available resources for those affected.

By the numbers: The Florida Council on Compulsive Gambling, which operates the helpline, tells Axios that calls increased over 100% from December to January.

Online gambling exploded 135% between 2019 and 2023, per 888-ADMIT-IT helpline data. The helpline also saw spikes in illegal electronic gambling, like internet sweepstakes.

Read More
[IMAGE] 02.19.24 Media Story with ABC Action News Tampa Bay

WFLA News Channel 8 Interviews FCCG About the Surge in 888-ADMIT-IT HelpLine Contacts

February 20, 2024

Since the launch of sports betting, Florida’s gambling helpline is experiencing a dramatic increase in calls from gamblers needing help.

Officials said calls have more than doubled since sports betting became legal in December.

“We’re struggling and there’s no doubt, trying to keep up is an effort,” said Richard Pinsky with the Florida Council on Compulsive Gambling.

Read More
[IMAGE] 02.19.24 Media Story with ABC Action News Tampa Bay

FCCG Speaks with ABC Action News Tampa Bay About Impacts of Gambling Expansion

February 19, 2024

As gambling accessibility has expanded in the Sunshine State, so too has the number of Floridians suffering from problem gambling. FCCG Executive Director Jennifer Kruse spoke to ABC Action News Tampa Bay about the increases in 888-ADMIT-IT HelpLine contacts, particularly among young men. Anyone concerned about problem gambling needs to know that help and hope are always available!

The Florida Council on Compulsive Gambling is grateful to have a steadfast partner in The Seminole Tribe of Florida, which has generously supported the issue of problem gambling in the State — both with funding and programming — long before there was a Compact or any other requirement to do so.

Read More
[IMAGE] 02.15.24 Media Story with WIOD & NBC 6 South Florida

FCCG Speaks with WIOD/NBC 6 About Increases in Florida Problem Gambling Help Seekers

February 15, 2024

The state’s [888-ADMIT-IT] gambling addiction [HelpLine is] ringing off the hook since sports betting became legal last December. Jennifer Kruse, with the Florida Council on Compulsive Gambling, says there are only eight pari-mutuels funding resources for problem gamblers. She predicts they will get about 40 thousand calls this fiscal year, which is higher than the 26 thousand they had the previous year. The largest increase comes from young adult men.

Read More
[IMAGE] 02.12.24 Media Story with CBS12

CBS 12 News Interviews FCCG About Massive Increase in HelpLine Calls

February 12, 2024

According to the Florida Council on Compulsive Gambling, their calls [to its 888-ADMIT-IT HelpLine] more than doubled from December to January with an over 100 percent increase in calls alone.

The organization’s government relations representative, Richard Pinsky says right now, they’re still able to serve everyone who is calling, but it’s become a harder task to keep up with.

“We also get texts, we get chats, other contacts, instant messages, we get various languages. And so it’s not just straight phone calls to the helpline,” said Pinsky.

Read More
[IMAGE] 02.11.24 Media Story with WPTV

FCCG Speaks to WPTV About Rising Help Seekers Following Florida Sports Betting Expansion

February 11, 2024

The Florida Council on Compulsive Gambling (FCCG) predicts it will receive about 40,000 calls to its 888-ADMIT-IT HelpLine this current fiscal year, which is higher than the about 26,000 calls it saw the previous year. Kruse said the group is seeing the largest increase from young adult men.

Read More
[IMAGE] 02.09.24-Media-Story-with-10-Tampa-Bay

FCCG Interviewed by 10 Tampa Bay for Problem Gambling Crime Story

February 9, 2024

Eric Randazzo is a Program Consultant with the Florida Council on Compulsive Gambling. “Gambling addiction is known as the hidden addiction,” said Randazzo.

“Because, unlike substance abuse or alcoholism, there are really no outward, visible symptoms. So it’s not as obvious to people. And oftentimes, even the person’s spouse has no idea.” Randazzo said gambling addiction also presents a slippery slope.

“Illegal acts come into the picture as the disorder progresses. It is a progressive disorder. It gets worse over time, not better,” said Randazzo. He urges that it’s never too early or too late to seek help.

Read More
[IMAGE] 12.20.23 Media Story with CBS News Miami

CBS News Miami Reports on Surge of 888-ADMIT-IT HelpLine Contacts

December 20, 2023

Of 42 states with publicly funded problem gambling services, none had more calls for help than Florida last year, according to the [Florida] Council on Compulsive Gambling. In March, the council’s executive director called out the state over its dollar-per-capita spending to combat the problem.

“The average across the United States is about 40 cents per capita,” she said in March. “Florida’s per capita public fund allocation is six cents.”

Gambling problem? Contact the 24/7, Confidential, and Multilingual
888-ADMIT-IT HelpLine for Florida.

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Learn More: FCCG’s PGAM Campaign

Contact Us

Want to learn more about problem gambling? Are you a professional that works with this population? Whatever you’re looking for, feel free to reach out using the form below. For immediate or anonymous assistance, please contact the 888-ADMIT-IT HelpLine.

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