As of April 9, less than four weeks after most casinos suspended operations amid COVID-19 concerns, online gambling appears to be on the rise both in the U.S. and around the world. According to Global Poker, an online social poker room, use of online poker sites increased by 43 percent in the U.S. since social distancing and lockdowns took effect. Notably, there was a 255 percent increase in first-time poker players, suggesting that gamblers unable to participate in their preferred ways, such as sports betting and those who frequent casinos, may be switching over.

A similar trend has been noted in Australia, where a study showed there was a 67 percent increase in online gambling the week following the shutdown of all non-essential services due to COVID-19. In fact, the Australian study revealed that the online gambling industry was a major benefactor of the shutdown, along with food delivery and online retail and subscription services.

It is currently illegal to bet online in Minnesota. Those who bet online are using offshore, unregulated venues.

If you or someone you know has moved to online gambling and would benefit from using a self-exclusion tool, NPGA is offering a free one-year subscription to Gamban, an app that will block tens of thousands of world gambling sites on all devices. If interested, please email sst [at] northstarpg.org.