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 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?
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.
3 different activities.
6 different activities.
gambling on electronic gaming machines at ILLEGAL OPERATING LOCATIONS than that of the national average.
 NCPG (2021). National survey on gambling attitudes and gambling experience (NGAGE). Detailed report of Florida.
 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.
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 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.
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.
Florida’s Public Funding Allocation for Problem Gambling Services Lags Far Behind the Average at Just $0.06 Per Capita
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.