The stage is set, and the Big Game will be happening Sunday, February 7th, 2021. Tom Brady and Patrick Mahomes, undoubtedly the two best quarterbacks in the league, are leading their teams to the Super Bowl. It is going to be different however, with only 22,000 fans being allowed into Raymond James Stadium, about three quarters less than it was just last year. However, what will not be reduced or slashed, but is expected to rise significantly, is sports betting.
While sports betting is legal in many states, not all offer online betting, something that New Jersey does. In fact, New Jersey is considered the most mature sports betting market in the U.S. This year with COVID-19 and the caliber of the game expected, it is sure to draw more viewers than the 99 million that watched the 2020 game. According to the American Gaming Association, an estimated 33.2 million Americans said they expected to bet prior to the season starting and so it is safe to say that those individuals and a whole lot more will be betting on the Big Game.
For some, sports betting also provides a little bit of assurance or calculated risk more manageable than playing the lottery or at the casinos with the many options it provides. In fact, since NJ sportsbooks started accepting bets in 2018, the sportsbooks have lost money on the Big Game each of the past two years. It is an illusion of control not based in reality, yet it is one that will be held by the millions who bet on the game this year.
For many, this action of betting on the Big Game is harmless and fun but for so many others, it is one of many signs of a gambling disorder. Noting the ease, accessibility, and convenience, sports betting is certainly a topic that needs to be at the center of any conversation on gambling. According to research, the rate of gambling problems is twice as high among sports bettors than among general gamblers. In addition, the effect of technology is a major contributor, as 29% of people who gamble online were shown to either have signs of a gambling problem or met the clinical criteria for a gambling disorder. In-Play Sports Betting, the ability to play a number of bets throughout the game, is most worrisome, with the potential to be more harmful than other ways of sports betting as it can trigger the problem gambler to take more risks than is common, as each play affects their decision making.
We at the Council want to encourage everyone to gamble responsibly. You can do so by:
- Gambling for fun, not for profit.
- Setting limits on your time and money (for example do not allow automatic withdrawing from your linked bank account).
- Only spending what you can afford and not withdrawing more money to chase your loss.
- Taking frequent breaks.
- Not consuming drugs or excessive amounts of alcohol while gambling.
- Knowing the resources.
As always, remember that HELP is always available!
Call for help 24 hours per day, 7 days per week – 800GAMBLER or Text ‘800GAMBLER’ to 800GAMBLER.
Visit www.800gambler.org for information, resources, or live chat.
Attend a Gamblers Anonymous (GA) or Gam-Anon meeting in your area; meeting locations, times, and dates can be found by calling 800GAMBLER or by visiting our website at www.800gambler.org
– Olubukunola Oyedele, Ph.D., MPH