Image source: Shutterstock
The National Council on Problem Gambling (NCPG) has issued a stark reminder this week that while the Super Bowl is one of the most widely viewed and biggest betting events of the year, 2021 is an especially challenging time for governments seeking to generate income as well as individuals struggling with gambling problems.
Due in part to the pandemic, it said, state governments are seeking to generate tax revenue to fill their depleted coffers in any way possible, with sports betting and online gambling being easy go-to sources of cash.
In addition, the incessant media hype and personal conversation topics engendered by what some call ‘the most-watched event of the year’ make it hard to avoid and put pressure on people trying to maintain their recovery, reduce their gambling, or simply gamble only as much as they can afford.
NCPG’s National Survey of Gambling Attitudes and Experiences (www.ncpgsurvey.org) found that sports bettors were at least twice as likely to have gambling problems. One estimate is that at least 25 million Americans will bet a total of almost $7bn dollars on the game.
This means approximately 4% of those gamblers, or about one million individuals will fail to set and stick to a limit of money and time spent gambling; bet to escape feelings of anxiety, stress or depression; and view gambling as a good means of making money.
Through its ‘Keep Your Super Bowl Safer’ message and Safer Sports Betting Initiative, NCPG urges individuals, public health agencies, sports betting operators and media outlets to be aware of and promote useful tips to prevent gambling from becoming a problem.
Among them is the setting of specific limits on the time and money spent gambling, seeking help to manage negative feelings that can fuel addiction; and recognizing gambling is inherently an activity with long-term losses, due to house advantage and chance.
“Unfortunately, NCPG expects the number of people with gambling problems to grow with each passing year, because both the amount of money and the number of people who bet on sports grows with each passing year,” said Keith Whyte, NCPG Executive Director.
He added: “We want everyone to enjoy the Super Bowl, but we also want people to recognize the challenges that come with the rapid expansion of sports betting—especially on mobile phones. If you are placing a wager on the Big Game, we urge you to follow our tips, and if you are struggling with a gambling problem, we urge you to seek free, confidential help. That is available 24/7 through the National Problem Gambling Helpline. Call or text 1-800-522-4700 or visit www.ncpgambling.org/chat.”
In addition to the Helpline, resources including a free, anonymous online screening tool for gambling problems are available at: https://www.ncpgambling.org/help-treatment/screening-tools/. Resources are also available for family members or concerned individuals who are seeking to help someone they believe has become a problem gambler.