“They put money aside,” said Dr. Marc Potenza, professor of psychiatry at Yale and director of the university’s addiction research department. “Some people, when they win the money, they put it back in.”
Dr. Potenza said the research showed that men – who historically were more interested in strategic forms of gambling such as sports betting – were more prone to developing gambling problems, but that women who developed them tended to get into trouble more quickly advised, a dynamic called telescoping.
This moment of explosive growth for the gaming industry, with few government restrictions on marketing actions, was one of trial and error. At industry conferences my colleagues and I attended this year, some betting company representatives called on regulators to trust them and offer flexibility so, as one Bet MGM employee who focuses on responsible betting put it, “learn and be able to recognize what is harmful, what is not harmful.”
While my patterns on the sites were intensely concentrated over a matter of days and sometimes stretched late into the night, they all resulted in me making money off the platforms overall. The companies made me new offers even and especially when I slowed down my bets or cashed out my winnings. Sometimes these offers have been effective in pulling me out.
“They tricked us for $1,442,” said Chris Jones, FanDuel’s vice president of communications, referring to my initial $900 bet on FanDuel on the Orioles to beat the Red Sox. “For someone who’s not into it, you’ve done pretty well,” he said, reminding me of the company’s tools for limiting one’s bets.
At the end of the four days I spent betting on this app, I had won $1,088.03.
“We obviously want our customers to be involved,” said Mr. Jones. “But we don’t want our customers to be checking their phones 24/7.”
My favorite bet, which I made hundreds on cross-platform during the experiment, was a live bet on baseball total runs: During a game in progress, I don’t bet on winners and losers, just whether the combined scores will be over or equal would be below a certain number.