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Sports betting is a common, casual activity that sports fans like to engage in as they watch games, but is it as harmless as it seems? With the NFL starting next week, and the NHL and NBA starting shortly after, it’s the perfect time to educate yourself about sports betting before placing bets on these games. 

Is Sports Betting Legal?

Up until a few years ago, the only place in America where you could legally place a bet was in Nevada. In 2018, the Supreme Court overturned the federal law passed in 1992 that banned sports betting in all states except for Nevada. This ruling did not immediately make sports betting legal across the whole country, but it gave each state the ability to decide whether or not they will allow sports betting. Since then, New Jersey has surpassed Nevada as the state with the most sports bets monthly. 

Sports betting is now fully legal and operational in 25 states and Washington D.C., and more states are in the process of legalizing. In fact, on September 9th, the opening day of the NFL season, sports betting is set to become legal in Arizona, and a study estimates an increase of 280,000 new bettors in the state. However, a recent lawsuit was filed by the Yavapai-Prescott Indian Tribe which could hinder the legalization process.

Should Sports Betting Be Legal?

With the amount of money that is generated by sports betting, there is the opportunity for states to improve their economy by legalizing sports betting.

With many casinos closed during the Covid-19 pandemic, there was an increase in all kinds of online gambling, including sports betting, and in 2020, the American sports betting market generated $1 billion in revenue. This number is projected to grow sixfold by 2023, and Jeff Bell of Forbes states that, “If betting becomes legalized in all 50 states, estimated revenues will exceed $19 billion a year.” The amount of money that can be made from sports betting is definitely a factor when states make the decision to legalize it.

sports fans cheering at a game

Legalization of sports betting increases the accessibility to gambling, and will likely attract younger gamblers who are more at risk for developing a gambling disorder This means that betting will become even more normalized, and may attract younger gamblers. and individuals may feel more reluctant to seek help when they need it. 

To combat this increased risk, each state needs to recognize that for some people, placing a bet is not as harmless as it may seem, and it actually has the potential to destroy lives. For example, if sports networks are going to be advertising for sports betting, they also need to be providing resources and support for problem gambling.

Risks of Sports Betting

The highest proportion of sports bettors are young men, under the age of 35, who are usually educated and employed. The risk of addiction is higher for young adults, and sports bettors are actually more than twice as likely to develop a gambling problem compared to other gamblers. Sports betting has become easier and more convenient than ever due to the rise of online gambling, and the ability to place a bet from your phone. Some sports fans believe that they can’t enjoy sports without being engaged in some sort of gambling.

Unfortunately, sports networks will often promote sports betting without outlining the risks involved, or these warnings will be in very small print. Although betting is socially acceptable, and seen as a fun and normal activity for young men to engage in while watching sports, it can take a dangerous turn if you’re not careful.

Just like any other type of gambling, sports betting is based on chance, and someone somewhere is trying to make money off of your losses. Betting sites or bookies will entice bettors to bet on the underdog team by offering a higher payout if that team wins with the hope that more people will bet on the team that is projected to lose.

No matter how much you know about the sport, you cannot be certain which team or player will win their game - every bet is a gamble. Blogger Lane Goodwin says, “The problem is that no one gets rich by gambling. While you can find a few casino owners among the world’s richest people, you’ll find no gamblers.”

How to Bet Responsibly

  • Be aware of the risks of placing bets
  • Set a spending limit
  • Don’t bet under the influence of alcohol or drugs
  • Don’t chase losses
  • Don’t bet on sports you don’t know about, or teams that you’re not familiar with

Regardless of what form it comes in, gambling has the potential to ruin lives. You don’t have to hit rock bottom before asking for help. At Algamus, we have nearly 30 years of experience treating men and women across the country struggling with any form of gambling. If you feel yourself or your loved one is developing an unhealthy gambling habit, reach out to one of our certified gambling counsellors, and we can help you navigate this difficult situation.

Topics: Gambling Addiction, Treatment, Recovery, sports betting

Rick Benson

Written by Rick Benson

Rick founded Algamus Recovery Centers in 1992. A Cornell University graduate, Rick is an Internationally Certified Gambling Counselor (ICGC-II) and a Canadian Problem Gambling Counselor (CPGC). Algamus and Rick were featured on the very first episode of Intervention on the A&E channel.