The Big Game & Gambling in the Age of COVID-19

The novel coronavirus has changed the way people do things, and gambling is no different. In the age of COVID-19, the NFL is still gearing up for its championship game, but there are new obstacles for people who want to place a bet on the Big Game. 

Though previously illegal, sports betting is now a major New Jersey industry since the Supreme Court’s 2018 decision to allow the practice. With many casinos closed due to COVID-19 restrictions, online gambling has seen a massive surge. For this reason, it’s fair to say that an unprecedented number of sports bets will be placed online for the Big Game.

Online Sports Betting Is Accessible

Casino closures and restrictions have kept a lot of people at home. Logging into a sports betting website is as easy as logging into your Facebook account. Finding an online sports betting site is simple, and there are a ton of options available. 

Many sports betting websites are becoming publicly traded companies. Financial backing has been on the rise since 2019 as well. Between 2017 and 2018, investments in online betting and online sports grew from $490 million to a whopping $4.5 billion. 

Online sports betting accessibility can be seen as a blessing and a curse. For people who need a release from the pandemic’s constant stress and uncertainty, gambling can be a fun way to blow off some steam. However, people with a gambling problem may find it difficult to “walk away” when placing bets from home. 

The Big Game is Uncertain — Which Complicates Bets

Just like the rest of the world, NFL players are coping with a pandemic. Throughout the 2020 season, players have had to sit out games unexpectedly, and other players would join the roster. This has made it difficult to handicap NFL games and determine odds. Scheduling has become similarly unpredictable as teams have had to quarantine and postpone games unexpectedly. 

COVID-19 Anxieties Play a Role in How People Bet

The pandemic has created a climate of anxiety, and many people are struggling to cope. For some, gambling can be an escape from mental health struggles. Experts have hypothesized that the increased time spent at home may have people spending more of their time online and may put problem gamblers at risk for placing high-risk bets and facing unprecedented losses. The popularity of the Big Game may exasperate anxieties and encourage more pervasive betting behaviors in hopes of winning big. 

Gambling provides a rush of dopamine, and many people are craving that now more than ever. In April, the National Council on Problem Gambling issued a warning to people with gambling problems and suggested that there may be a greater risk to both an individual’s health and personal funds. 

If you or a loved one struggles with the pandemic and a related sports betting problem, you have options. For support, treatment, and hope, call our 24/7 helpline at 800-GAMBLER. Thousands of NJ residents have been in your shoes and can empathize with your specific stressors. Our compassionate team of helpline respondents will connect you with resources near you for ongoing support.



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