HomeGamblingPennsylvania lawmaker to introduce legislation banning credit cards for online gambling

Pennsylvania lawmaker to introduce legislation banning credit cards for online gambling

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PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Sportsbooks like DraftKings and FanDuel make it easy to bet on games around the world, but a recent KDKA Investigation showed a shocking surge in young people getting in too deep and falling into life-crippling debt. 

Our reports have prompted a Pennsylvania lawmaker to craft a bill to protect these young users from betting apps and themselves. 

For most young men, it’s become a mostly harmless diversion — small wagers on a game to make things a bit more interesting. 

But online sportsbooks make placing a bet as close as the phone in their pocket. Now, more and more young people have gotten in too deep. 

“This is the new opioid epidemic,” gambling addiction counselor Jody Bechtold said.

Since its legalization three years ago, sports betting in the state has taken off. Last year, Pennsylvanians legally wagered $7.7 billion on sports, which was up from $7.2 billion in 2023. Bettors — mostly young men — lost $458 million to sportsbook operators.

The Pennsylvania Problem Gambling Helpline has seen a major spike in young sports bettors asking for help, and local gambling counselors said they’ve been inundated with requests for treatment from some as young as 18 in tens of thousands of dollars in debt.   

“The numbers are staggering, to be so young and talking about $50,000 or $75,000, it’s just hard even imagine,” Bechtold said. 

KDKA-TV’s reports shocked Pennsylvania Senator Wayne Fontana, who says something needs to be done to protect young users from the sportsbooks and themselves.   

“I appreciate you bringing those statistics to me,” Fontana said. “So, I pursued that after I spoke with you and found other stats that pushed me in a direction of some new legislation.”

KDKA-TV showed how some young gamblers get in over their heads by betting with credit cards, sometimes on multiple sites with multiple credit cards, and running up debts they can’t hope to repay. 

Fontana is introducing a bill that would follow other states that prohibit the use of credit cards for online gambling — only debit cards or cash — to prevent users from gaming with money they don’t have. 

“We know that gambling can become addictive,” Fontana said. “And that’s what you’re describing is addictive behavior, if you’re getting multiple credit cards to max out.”

No one is calling for a ban on sports betting, but Fontana and others now believe that serious safeguards are needed to prevent young people, especially, from falling into serious debt. 

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