There’s nothing quite like gathering with friends on Super Bowl Sunday, or being part of the rivalry between your favorite team and its longstanding opponent. Watching sports is a way unwind, take pride in your roots and socialize, bringing together friends and strangers alike. While many choose to watch games for the fun of it, sports betting raises the stakes by risking money in hopes of a certain outcome. For some, this is a harmless social activity done only on occasion. But it can also lead to a gambling addiction, especially since it can now be done on smartphone apps rather than confined to a casino. Here’s what you need to know about the growing sports betting trend.
1. Types of Sports Betting
Sports betting varies depending on the game being played. Typically, the person placing a bet predicts how a certain game will end, depositing money that will either be lost or increased based on the outcome.
In a moneyline bet, each participant predicts a game winner – this is the most common form of sports betting. A spread bet is slightly different: participants predict how close the final score will be and choose an expected point difference. Similarly, in total bets each person guesses whether the combined teams’ final score will be higher or lower than a certain set amount. A parlay bet combines several of these elements.
Each sports bet can have different rules and nuances, so it’s important to be fully informed and comfortable with the rules before getting involved.
2. Why it’s Rising in Popularity
In May of 2018, the federal government overturned a national sports gambling ban – Nevada had previously been the only state where it was legal. Since then, each state’s government has had the power to decide on the issue. So far, more than thirty states have chosen to legalize it with several more in the process.
Along with these changes, sports gambling has become easy to access online and through smartphone apps. This convenience factor means people can make a bet at any time, just as easily as they can send a text, listen to a song or order a ride. The variety of apps and types of sports betting available attract people with interests ranging from ice hockey to boxing, as well as people who simply bet for the satisfaction of winning.
Sports fans who haven’t gambled in the past are also now being targeted with ads for betting sites and apps. Enticing offers like sign-up bonuses and rewards appeal to both regular gamblers and those who don’t typically gamble.
With growing social interest, easy accessibility and prevalent marketing, sports betting is now a normalized part of American culture. According to the American Gambling Association, more than 23 million Americans planned to place a bet on the 2021 Super Bowl. To put this in perspective, that’s nearly three times the population of New York City. The financial amount totaled $4.3 billion, with nearly a third of bets placed digitally through online sportsbooks.
3. Risks to Be Aware Of
Like any other form of gambling, sports betting can be enjoyable when done in moderation. In a controlled approach, betters gamble only a pre-determined amount of money that they can afford to lose, recognizing that this is likely. But maintaining control isn’t always easy or possible, and sometimes unsuspecting people develop problematic sports gambling habits.
Borrowing from others while gambling or in order to gamble, spending excessive time betting and dipping into personal funds reserved for something else are just a few dangerous tendencies that can quickly derail your finances. If you lose money while sports betting, it can be tempting to try to win back the lost money by gambling more. To avoid losing more money and the complications that go with that, always stop betting once you’ve spent the amount you budgeted for.
If you notice changes to the way or reasons you participate in sports gambling, or find yourself lying about how often you’re doing it and how much you’re spending, seeking help can get you back on track. Using sports betting to relieve stressful emotions or noticing it affecting your relationships, job or goals are also signs that call for support.
If you currently participate in sports betting in a controlled way, continue to monitor your spending closely and be aware that gambling addictions can develop over time. It may be a good idea to choose a trusted accountability partner who you can touch base with about your betting habits periodically. If you’re concerned or struggling with sports gambling, you’re not alone. Don’t hesitate to get free confidential help, and know that recovery is possible.