Some Tennesseans are making use of a problem gambling helpline number.
The Tennessee REDLINE received 30 calls for sports betting during December, the second full month of legal and regulated online sports betting in the Volunteer State, according to Mary-Linden Salter, executive director at the Tennessee Association of Alcohol, Drug & other Addiction Services.
The REDLINE resource is promoted by the Tennessee Education Lottery, the group that regulates the sports betting platforms. Bettors are able to limit their own betting on the sites.
Salter said that in December 2019 the group didn’t receive any calls about sports betting. Prior to Nov. 1, 2020, Tennesseans could only bet on sports online through unregulated channels, such as offshore betting sites, or by traveling to a state where it’s legal.
The REDLINE received calls about sports betting prior to Nov. 1, so the activity isn’t entirely new to Tennesseans. However, a regulated market means sports betting is much more mainstream.
In October, when the state was on the cusp of legal books, the REDLINE took a few sports betting calls.
Sports betting made up 17% of the total gambling information calls to the REDLINE last month. The bulk were the 122 calls related to “casino/lottery,” as Tennessee does have a lottery. The state has no casinos, but many Tennesseans aren’t too far from casinos in other states.
Overall, gambling-related calls were up significantly year-over-year in terms of a percentage. There were just 20 total gambling calls in December 2019, according to Salter.
The REDLINE is used by people with all sorts of addictions, not just gambling. However, gambling addiction concerns do appear to be on the rise in Tennessee, though not all due to sports betting. In December 2019, 2% of the total calls were about gambling. Last month it was 10%.
Tennessee has more than 6.8 million people.