You don’t have to be a passionate sports fan or a fanatic gambler to know that sports betting is booming.
This year’s Super Bowl, second in viewership only to FIFA World Cup soccer, is estimated to generate $1.3 billion in bets in the U.S. alone, breaking its previous record for money wagered on a single live sporting event in the United States. More than 50 million people placed bets on last year’s Super Bowl, another record expected to be shattered by bettors on the Taylor Swift-ified clash between the Kansas City Chiefs and San Francisco 49ers this Sunday.
If you or someone you care about is engaging in problematic gambling, you can get help by calling the National Problem Gambling Helpline at 1-800-GAMBLER, or visiting problemgamblingcoalitioncolorado.org (for resources in Colorado) or gamblersanonymous.org (for support throughout the U.S. and internationally).
The proliferation and popularity of mobile sports betting applications (apps) has fueled a sports-betting surge. Apps have created exponentially greater access to sports wagering for everyone from casual bettors to compulsive gamblers, who can place bets anywhere, anytime, with just a click on their mobile devices.
Upping the ante is the seamless integration of mobile betting with major sports leagues and media coverage, which bombards audiences with updates on ever-shifting odds and encouragement to “get in on the action,” blurring the line between the game and gaming.
Healthy Gambling Guidelines
At the same time, mobile sports betting menus – the types of wagers available to bettors – have expanded significantly. Traditional sports bets (placed before the start of a game, and typically tied to the outcome of the event) are served up alongside “live betting” (also known as “in-game” or “in-play” betting), in which odds and wagering options unfold during live-game play, and “microbetting,” a more granular, instant-gratification form of gambling that focuses on specific events or moments in a game, like the outcome of the next play, point or possession.
This trifecta of increased access, relentless opportunities to chase one’s losses (or winnings) and pervasive marketing have drawn millions of Americans to online sports betting, increasing the odds that more people will develop unhealthy relationships with gambling.
With so much on the line, we turned to Emily Hemendinger, MPH, LCSW, an assistant professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Colorado School of Medicine, who specializes in treating patients with obsessive-compulsive traits and has a background in treating addictions. In the following Q&A, Hemendinger offers insight into the root causes and signs of problem gambling (also known as compulsive gambling or gambling addiction), and how to help yourself or someone who is struggling with a gambling disorder.