Holiday Pressures, NBA Christmas Games, and Problem Gambling

Santa Claus outstretched arm holding a Basketball. Horizontal format over a white background.

The holiday represents a time of seasonal cheer, coming together as a family, and celebrating our connections throughout the year. There’s joy, presents, and time spent together watching NBA Christmas day games that define the season. However, the holidays can also bring a wealth of challenges and pressures to make the holidays something to always remember can lead to specific triggers that push you towards gambling as a way to make up for any perceived deficiencies. 

While some may think that gambling opportunities would be limited on Christmas day, they would be mistaken. With the NBA hosting a slate of Christmas day games every year designed to take advantage of fierce rivalries to draw more viewers and more online sportsbooks opening every year, the options for problem gamblers to indulge are endless. 

Common Holiday Triggers for Problem Gamblers

In our blog Common Problem Gambling Triggers During the Holidays, we discuss in detail some of the most common triggers that arise during the holiday season. These triggers can range from financial pressures, loneliness, overt secrecy, overwhelming grief, and more subtle ones. While you may believe you have your gambling behavior sorted out, any of these triggers can push you towards indulging in your gambling problem. 

Financial Pressures

With financial pressures, you can feel the need to try to keep up with the lavish gifts your friends and family give to avoid feelings of inadequacy. You could also think that you need to go above and beyond to show those you love that you care about them through lavish gifts you can’t afford, so you turn to gambling to give your gift-giving a boost. 

However, in your attempts to get that extravagant gift, you can wind up in an endless cycle of winning and losing that sends you into crippling debt. Trying to keep up appearances for the sake of others can quickly become your gateway to logging into an online sportsbook and betting on the NBA Christmas games to the point where you lose everything based on a single jump shot. 


The holiday season can quickly become a time fraught with people feeling extreme loneliness if they are separated from family and friends for myriad reasons. As these feelings fester, you want to find anything to fill the void, and on Christmas day, that means betting on NBA games. 

As matchups with legendary teams like the Lakers, Knicks, Celtics, 76ers, and current powerhouses like the Bucks and Warriors, these games are designed to be significant viewership draws, and sportsbooks also try to take advantage of these massic draws. They offer a wide range of deals and specials aimed at drawing new players in and getting these people their first win so they can begin the betting cycle. 

Why Online Gambling Has Made Holiday Triggers Worse

While the holiday season has always been full of potential problem gambling triggers, getting to and from a casino, bookie, or gambling house on Christmas day wasn’t always the easiest. With familial obligations taking up a significant portion of your time, taking the time out of your day to make a bet would lead to potential problems and arguments that you’d want to avoid. Online gambling has found a way to eliminate this roadblock. 

With online sports betting and sportsbooks becoming more widespread, people have more options than ever before to place bets on these games. Additionally, with professional sports leagues like the NBA, NFL, and MLB embracing professional partnerships with these institutions, promotions for these sites have become commonplace during the pregame shows, the actual games, and post-game shows advertising the rest of the game day slate. It has become an ecosystem where problem gamblers can become ensnared in the gambling cycle without leaving the comfort of their home. 

Avoiding Holiday Triggers

As online sportsbooks become more prevalent, finding ways to avoid your specific triggers this holiday season becomes more important than ever. Finding ways to avoid that initial win that can start that problem gambling cycle can involve various coping strategies and mechanisms. 

Budgeting Is Your Friend

Having you or someone you trust set your holiday budget, so you don’t have an excess amount of money lying around can help protect you from using it to place a prop bet on how many times Lebron scores in the third quarter. 

Make the Right Decisions About Family Gatherings

It’s great that you’re visiting over the holidays — however, not all family members are great for your problem gambling. Suppose you know that some other members of your family may place bets on Christmas party games or spice up the yearly white elephant gift exchange by laying down odds. In that case, these practices can exacerbate your gambling problem and lead you to an online sportsbook for the remaining Christmas day games. 

Know Yourself

If you know that certain situations, family members, or friends can lead you back to a gambling problem, doing your best to avoid these triggering situations can help you avoid doing something you shouldn’t. Limiting alcohol intake, avoiding casinos, and not tuning in for the Christmas day games if they’re promoting special deals for first-time users can all help you avoid your specific triggers and enjoy the holidays with the people you love. 

Make the Holiday Season One to Remember for the Right Reasons

The holidays can be both a loving and triggering experience for those dealing with problem gambling. Understanding what makes your triggers tick and how to navigate them, even if it means giving up your tradition of watching and betting for sports in Monmouth, NJ, can make your holiday experience one to truly remember. 

If you suffer from a gambling problem and want to seek help, 800GAMBLER® is completely anonymous and is available 24/7 to help.


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