US Problem Gambling Help App Downloads Rise, Users Report Less Use of Illegal Sites

Earlier this week, problem gambling self-help app Gambless released its H1 2022 update.

It claims to be the #1 search result for “gambling addiction” and related searches in most countries on Google Play. Searches by Bonus confirmed this to be the case in the US and Canada. Searches on iOS devices turned up Gambless in the #5 position in the App Store in Canada and #7 in the US.

The most important observation made in the update is that downloads of the app are on the rise in the US. Another interesting, and more positive trend, is an apparent decline in offshore gambling.

In 2021, US users accounted for 28% of all downloads by English speakers. In the first six months of 2022, that has risen to 35%.

Gambless speculates that this may be due to the continued expansion of online gambling in the US. That’s probably at least part of the reason. Launching new online gambling products typically produces at least a temporary spike in the overall gambling rate.

There may be other factors at play as well. Self-exclusion tool Gamstop serves only the UK, a much more mature market. Registrations for Gamstop rose 25% in H1 2021. CEO Fiona Palmer speculated this might be related to the economic effects of the pandemic. The continued aftereffects of the pandemic in the US could likewise be part of what Gambless is seeing.

Gambless Unable to Find Funding

Whatever the cause or combination of causes, an increase in Gambless downloads probably means more Americans feel they need help with their gambling habits. That’s concerning.

Accompanying the update, the company also announced that it would have to begin charging for its therapeutic courses. Although the app is free, these treatment programs are perhaps its most important feature. They provide users with daily lessons and assignments to help them take control of their gambling habits.

The company describes them as follows:

Our psycho-educational courses, and in particular the Problem Gambling program, have been written by our team of psychologists specialized in gambling addiction and other compulsive behaviors.

They combines different treatment techniques, including CBT and Gestalt therapy, and are structured into multiple sections, educating users on the topic, giving actionable tips on how to consciously understand needs and emotions, and how to actively take control of their gambling behavior.

Initially, Gambless hoped to find funding from public or private sources to continue offering the courses for free. Having failed to garner any interest from “regulators, operators and grant-making organizations,” the company has decided to charge for the courses.

The core Problem Gambling program now costs $9.99 for those determined to be at risk after taking the self-assessment test.

Funding for gambling treatment in the US is low overall, with most states’ per capita spending being measured in pennies. Even Nevada, deemed to have the best such programs, spends just 56 cents per resident. With an estimated 2.7% problem gambling rate, this works out to just over $20 annually for each person with a gambling problem.

In that light, it’s unsurprising that Gambless has had little luck getting its product subsidized.

The Silver Lining: Offshore Sites on the Decline

The Gambless H1 update isn’t all gloom and doom, however. The company polls its users on their gambling habits and lists the most common sites they mention. Here, we find some good news.

Compare the list from 2021 to that for H1 2022:

RankH1 20222021 (Full Year)
#4Chumba CasinoBetMGM
#5BetRiversHollywood Bets

The appearance of FanDuel, DraftKings and BetMGM on both lists is no surprise. They’re the “Big Three” for US online gambling, dominating market share in most states where online sportsbooks or casinos are legal.

What’s important is the disappearance of Bovada and HollywoodBets from the list. These are both illegal offshore operators. Although all gambling carries risk, the lack of regulatory oversight and responsible gambling policies makes such black market sites particularly dangerous.

Replacing them are BetRivers and Chumba Casino. The former is a regulated real-money gambling site like FanDuel, DraftKings and BetMGM. The latter is also legal, though it uses a sweepstakes casino model, allowing it to operate in most states.

One of the main hopes of regulated gambling advocates in the US is that its expansion will help to stamp out offshore gambling. It’s good to see some tangible evidence that this is happening.

Update: One reader on Twitter has informed us that a friend who works in offshore betting says the volume of betting at offshore sportsbooks for a state drops 50% immediately upon launch of regulated sites, and 75% after a year. With 30 states now having legal sports betting in some form, it’s no wonder that these offshore sites are dropping off the list.

About the Author

Alex Weldon

Alex Weldon

Alex Weldon is an online gambling industry analyst with nearly ten years of experience. He currently serves as Casino News Managing Editor for, part of the Catena Media Network. Other gambling news sites he has contributed to include PlayUSA and Online Poker Report, and his writing has been cited in The Atlantic.
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