Gambling Addiction and Sports Betting
Former Secretary of State John Milton Hay once said, “True luck consists not in holding the best of the cards at the table. Luckiest is he who knows just when to rise and go home.” But for more than two million Americans with a gambling disorder, “rising and going home” is no longer enough to prevent financial loss and addictive behavior.1 Today, online sports betting has brought the casino to the couch.
Where is Sports Betting Legal?
The U.S. is full of sports fanatics. Whether they follow the NFL, NBA, or NHL, research shows that 70% of Americans consider themselves avid or casual fans.2 For many of them, splashy advertisements for online sports betting platforms have begun dominating mid-game commercial breaks.
In decades past, such services operated offshore, in a state of dubious legality. That all changed when the Supreme Court overturned PASPA, the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act, in 2018. This piece of legislation essentially banned sports wagering throughout most states. Its reversal led to an explosion in online gambling platforms and apps in 30 states. In 2022, outfits like DraftKings, Caesar’s Sportsbook, and FanDuel have begun pedaling “risk-free” first bets in Super Bowl ads and team sponsor signage.
The trouble, of course, is that there’s no such thing as a risk-free bet.
The Problem with Betting on Sports
John Briley, a reporter for The Washington Post, understands the inherent danger of easy-access gambling. “I’m watching with a sense of unease as sports wagering goes mainstream,” he writes. “I had a mild problem, but it often felt much worse than that… My deliverance came when I’d had enough of watching hundreds of dollars evaporate with a missed free-throw.”3
Briley is right to raise concerns about sports betting apps and websites. A literature review conducted by the National Council on Problem Gaming outlines the following disturbing statistics:4
- Compared to other gamblers, sports bettors are twice as likely to develop a gambling problem.
- Those who bet on sports with mobile devices are more likely to be problem gamblers.
- As of 2021, 45% of sports betting takes place online, which offers easy access and privacy for problem gamblers.
- The high prevalence of advertisements for sports wagering may make it more difficult for those in recovery to remain that way.
These dangers are especially salient for young men. Studies show that sports bettors are usually single men under the age of 35. They’re educated and employed.5 The risk of addiction is higher for this population than any other, especially if men begin betting at a young age or have a family history of gambling. For this reason, experts hope to make the signs of gambling disorder public knowledge.
Signs of Gambling Addiction
While most individuals can stop betting on sports whenever they need to, others cannot. Here are a few key indicators that your sports betting has become a problem.
- Wagering money that you do not have, often to recoup losses.
- Lying to friends and family members about how much or how often you gamble.
- Going into debt to keep betting.
- Borrowing money from loved ones.
- Betting money budgeted for food, bills, or other essentials.
- Constantly thinking about your next bet.
- Feeling anxious or irritable when you’re unable to gamble.
- Isolating yourself from friends and family.
- Missing out on personal and professional opportunities to make more time for betting.
- Trying and failing to stop on your own.
The consequences of gambling addiction can be personal, professional, and financial. It’s common for those struggling with this condition to find themselves in deep debt. They may also lose relationships as a result of their behavior. Additionally, anxiety, depression, and suicidal ideation are all associated with gambling disorder. Fortunately, there is a solution.
Addicted to Online Sports Betting?
If you can’t control your sports betting, don’t wait until it’s too late. Since such platforms are just a click or tap away, experts recommend comprehensive treatment. Pine Grove Behavioral Health & Addiction Services offers unparalleled treatment for gambling disorder. Our clinical team provides nationally recognized care for those struggling with this process addiction, among others.
Contact us to learn more about our innovative approach.
- National Council on Problem Gambling, FAQs, https://www.ncpgambling.org/help-treatment/faq/
- Statista, Share of Sports Fans in the United States as of May 2022, https://www.statista.com/statistics/300148/interest-nfl-football-age-canada/
- The Washington Post, Sports Betting is Exploding: This Ex-Gambler Has a $15,000 Cautionary Tale, https://www.washingtonpost.com/wellness/2022/04/29/sports-gambling-addiction-legal/
- Forbes, Not Just a Game: Online Sports Betting and the Rise of Corrosive Technology, https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbestechcouncil/2021/02/25/not-just-a-game-online-sports-betting-and-the-rise-of-corrosive-technology/?sh=543b41f070ec
- Journal of Gambling Issues, A Review of Sports Wagering: Prevalence, Characteristics of Sports Bettors, and Association with Problem Gambling, https://www.ncpgambling.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/sports-gambling_NCPGLitRvw.pdf