Super Bowl Sunday- February 1, 2009 – The Super Bowl: A Blessing and a Curse for the Compulsive Gambler
The Super Bowl is the culmination of the football season, the crowning of a champion. But it is also the largest betting event of the year. Last year, almost $100 Million was bet in Las Vegas, the only legal place to place a bet. An estimated total amount of $10 Billion was bet on the Super Bowl worldwide, four times the $2.5 Billion wagered on March Madness.
For many sports betters the Super Bowl represents a last chance to get even. It is often called a “Desperation Bowl”. Many compulsive gamblers believe the “Super Bowl Bet” is where they are going to win back everything they have lost on football wagers the last few months. Individual Super Bowl losses are in many cases gigantic. People are trying to play catch up, to “catch lightning in a bottle,” to save their marriage or to put back money stolen previously from families or employers.
The Council on Compulsive Gambling of New Jersey reports that 9% of the callers to its 1-800-GAMBLER® Helpline say that sports betting is their primary type of gambling. Youth gambling on sports is also growing. According to a 2008 report by the Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania, 26% of young men now are betting monthly on sports. Weekly betting on sporting events among young men has doubled from 5% in 2007 to 9.7% in 2008, while card playing remained constant.
Federal regulations prohibit banks from allowing the use of credit cards for betting on the Internet. As a result, some gamblers have moved their betting to traditional bookies, where they can bet on credit. Betting on credit increases the likelihood that a gambler will lose more than he can afford.
Office pools and home squares are traditional forms of Super Bowl betting. These pools often introduce employees to the thrill and excitement of sports betting. For many, this is a social and fun activity, but some will become hooked on the action. Many of these pools are illegal and can become increasingly problematic for employers who look the other way.
The Council on Compulsive Gambling of New Jersey, Inc. estimates that there are 350,000 compulsive, problem and at-risk gamblers in New Jersey. Calls to the Council’s 24 hour helpline generally go up immediately after the Super Bowl. Some are from emotionally and physically abused spouses and family members of gamblers. In fact, the day after Super Bowl is sometimes called Black and Blue Monday, due to the domestic violence that appears to ensue after the big game. The Super Bowl can become a blessing for the compulsive gambler when a loss causes him to reach out for help.
If you think you or someone you know might have a problem with gambling, help is available round the clock, simply by calling the Council’s confidential helpline at 1-800-GAMBLER®. Helpline staff can answer questions and connect you with Gamblers Anonymous meetings and Certified Compulsive Gambling Counselors who offer free or subsidized counseling services.