Hamilton, NJ September 5, 2008 – September is the time when a young man’s fancy turns towards football, and for many people gambling as well. More money is bet on football than any other sport. These bets may be made illegally with a bookie, online with off-shore betting parlors (also illegal) or in office pools. Fantasy football leagues abound in the United States. There are football “tickets” in every high school, allowing one to pick 4 out of 4 games and get 10 to 1 odds.
Gambling on football has become a business. Type in “betting football” on any web browser and you will get a myriad of tout services offering picks on upcoming games, guaranteeing wins and providing locks.
For many people betting on football is entertainment and adds to their enjoyment of the sport. Some people, however, experience difficulty with their football betting; they bet beyond their means and get preoccupied with gambling to the exclusion of other roles and responsibilities. These people are known as problem gamblers, and a small percentage become compulsive gamblers.
Fantasy football can become a gateway to sports betting. When someone spends several hours a day studying statistics in order to make trades and enhance their standings, the progression into sports betting is often right around the corner. The dollar office pool sounds harmless, but it often introduces people to sports betting.
The Council on Compulsive Gambling of New Jersey, Inc. owns and operates 1-800-GAMBLER®, a free helpline for people with gambling problems. Over the last five years, 7-13% of callers to the helpline have identified sports betting as their primary type of gambling. 11-20% of callers identified sports gambling as a problem. These numbers in 2007 reached a five year low, probably due to the 2006 Federal law that made online betting on sports events illegal. “Even so, we still hear horror stories about sports gambling on the helpline,” said Donald F. Weinbaum, Executive Director of the Council. “A mother called last year worried about her son. He had advised her he had $40,000 in gambling debts, and she inquired if this was possible given he had little cash and no credit cards. It was only upon our explaining how football is often bet on credit with a bookie that the mother understood.”