Can Diet Bets Lead to Potential Problem Gambling?

The holiday season often brings a desire to change and make positive changes in your lives. Many people flock to making new year’s resolutions, setting goals for themselves, and trying to see what they can do moving forward to live their best life. Some people might be looking to lose a few pounds in the new year, but may have trouble committing to a set routine. There are services and groups where you can add incentives and motivation to hit these goals in the form of organized “diet bets.” But could these seemingly harmless wagers lead to troubling problem gambling?

What Are Diet Bets?

When someone is looking to lose weight, finding the internal motivation and reason to make these changes can often feel like an uphill battle. The internal struggle to make changes and stay committed to their weight loss goals can ebb and flow, leading people to find new ways to keep that motivation going. Some services have incorporated a monetary incentive for people to stick with their goals in the form of diet bets. 

A diet bet is exactly what it sounds like — participants bet on themselves to hit predetermined weight loss goals or lose their money. While you can make unofficial bets with your friends, a social network-based program called DietBet has become one of the most popular ways to participate in the challenge. The stakes are typically between $20 and $50 but can also go higher. 

How Are Diet Bets Potential Traps for Problem Gamblers?

For recovering problem gamblers looking to use diet and exercise as a stand-in for their past behaviors, diet bets can prove a trap for their recovery. While they aren’t going into a casino, sportsbook, or gambling app, putting money down on your success can prove enough of a trigger to relapse. Succeeding on a diet bet can produce the same chemicals as hitting a wager at a casino. 

Are Diet Bets Potential Gateways to Relapse?

The structure surrounding diet bets can also prove potentially triggering for problem gamblers. These hard deadlines set wagers, and community aspects can pressure them to succeed. If the program results don’t meet their expectations, they lose, or any other negative outcome, it could also trigger a potential relapse. In addition, the associated behaviors surrounding diet bets often don’t create an environment where they can sustainably keep the weight off or fall back into bad gambling habits. 

Recovering problem gamblers have to be careful of the environments they put themselves in while on their journey. The monetary aspect of diet bets and the chemicals released in their brain can trigger similar responses to when they regularly gambled. 

Diet Bet Similarities to Carnival Games

We’ve discussed how some carnival games are designed to be a lose-lose scenario, putting players at a disadvantage while providing the illusion of fair play. Diet bets share some similarities with these old-fashioned games. However, while they can have seemingly attainable weight loss goals in place, the thing about a weight loss journey is that it’s rarely ever linear. 

Weight loss journeys have multiple factors that can affect how quickly someone can lose weight, how much, and whether or not they plateau after a given point. Some diet bets are set up to take advantage of these natural hurdles for longer-term wagers. Sometimes, these diet bets are designed for the person to lose the bet but still have a chance to build healthier habits. However, it could also become a triggering event for someone with a gambling problem. 

Have You Suffered a Gambling Problem Relapse? 800-GAMBLER Can Help

Whether you have begun participating in a formal diet bet or have experienced triggering situations with your gambling problem, knowing where you can turn for help and gambling support groups in Atlantic City, NJ, is vital. 800-GAMBLER provides a wide range of support services and resources for those in need. You can call our 24/7 toll-free number for around-the-clock support. If you or any family members are looking for support, we are happy to help however we can. 


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