March is a hot month for sports bettors. But in the midst of all the March Madness excitement, gambling hotline calls seem to have dropped drastically in Tennessee.
Tennessee sports betting hotline calls were on the rise
March is National Problem Gambling Awareness month, so we would be remiss if we didn’t offer an update on Tennessee responsible gambling trends.
Questions and concerns about gambling have been on the rise since sports betting launched back in November.
The Tennessee REDLINE, a 24/7 addiction resource hotline, saw a 38% year-over-year increase in calls this January. In that same timeframe, gambling addiction calls grew by an astounding 847%.
February saw even higher numbers.
As the most wagered on event in the history of sports betting, Super Bowl LV resulted in a substantial rise in gambling-related hotline calls. Most notably, the REDLINE experienced a significant call increase during the days leading up to Super Bowl Sunday.
Moreover, information request calls were substantially higher throughout February as a whole.
During the month, the REDLINE received 1919 calls. Of those calls, 366 were gambling-related. On a daily basis, this averages to around 13 calls per day.
The consistent rise in calls was attributed to the hotline’s increased accessibility.
Tennessee launched sports betting back in November 2020. Before then, the only legal form of gambling that existed was the state lottery.
Now, the Tennessee Education Lottery (TEL) requires sportsbooks to display responsible gambling information on all marketing material. This has given the REDLINE more visibility than ever in the past four months.
However, the increased hotline visibility doesn’t mean things are always clear for gamblers seeking help.
March gambling hotline calls surprisingly low in Tennessee
Instead, sports betting addiction and sports betting information calls both decreased drastically in March.
Out of the 1717 total REDLINE calls between March 1 – 29, 192 of those were gambling-related. This amounts to less than 7 calls per day, almost half the amount of February.
Only six calls have pertained to sports betting addiction, down from 29 in January.
With two days left in March, sports betting information calls totaled only 131. In February, calls of the same variety topped 272.
|January 2020||January 2021||February 2021||March 1-29, 2021|
|Total Redline Calls||1321||1829||1919||1717|
|Gambling Addiction Calls:|
|Casino Or Lottery Information Calls||11||64||51||34|
|Sports Betting Information Calls||0||98||272||131|
REDLINE representatives are surprised at the drop, and think that gamblers seeking help may be confused as to who to call when it comes to getting help locally.
While sports betting marketing collateral has increased hotline visibility, it may also be a potential roadblock for those trying to get in touch with local resources.
Multiple gambling hotlines contribute to lower REDLINE numbers
Mary Linden-Salter of the Tennessee REDLINE finds the month’s statistics somewhat strange.
“I am not sure what to attribute the drop in calls to – the drop surprised me given the NCAA Tournament.
Upon further consideration, she offered a potential reason for the decline.
“We have noticed that online sports betting advertisements have been listing other numbers instead of the REDLINE, so it could be that calls are being made to other gambling hotlines.”
Along with the Tennessee REDLINE’s number, gamblers can find the National Council on Problem Gambling (NCPG) hotline (1-800-522-4700) as well as the 1-800-GAMBLER hotline on sportsbook marketing material within the state.
Take the following marketing collateral from BetMGM as an example. Because the app is live in multiple states, the disclaimer at the bottom of the promotional photo has six different numbers to call if you have a gambling problem.
The numbers differ depending on the state in which you are wagering.
While the marketing collateral follows the necessary rules and responsible gambling regulations, it can be confusing to some bettors seeking help.
Just cause your team loses at the Buzzer doesn't mean you have to 🚨 pic.twitter.com/ETeLmbOuXY
— BetMGM 🦁 (@BetMGM) March 30, 2021
The NCPG automatically routes regional calls to the Tennessee REDLINE for those that use that number. This is not the case with 1-800-GAMBLER.
Linden-Salter thinks sportsbooks’ marketing collateral could be confusing to bettors, resulting in calls to the national hotlines rather than calls to the state-specific Tennessee REDLINE.
Hotline receives calls for issues other than gambling addiction
The confusion doesn’t stop there. Additionally, bettors are calling the hotline with issues not related to gambling addiction and resources.
“We did ask the TN Lottery Commission to work with the vendors on how they were displaying our REDLINE number so that players are not confusing the REDLINE number with a number for assistance with other issues. We are trying to cut down on the number of calls that are not for gambling assistance so that our call center staff can take addiction calls. I don’t believe that conversation has happened yet as we haven’t gotten feedback from it, but in the meantime, we are seeing alternate numbers displayed in ads.”
As sports betting continues to grow in popularity, it is more important than ever for bettors to have access to state-specific betting addiction resources.
For more information concerning gambling addiction and treatment, reach out to the Tennessee REDLINE at 800-889-9789.