Is it just me, or have you also noticed the recent barrage of sports gambling advertisements that now dominate sports television? Legalized gambling on sports — something prohibited until just recently — has taken over the sports landscape, so much so that it is already difficult to remember the time when sports gambling ads weren’t on TV. Talk about opening the floodgates! Seriously, aside from insurance advertisements, can you think of any ads you see more frequently than gambling ads? All this makes one wonder how did we ever enjoy sports before we were allowed to legally gamble?
Gambling can be a destructive habit
While it might seem like sports gambling is no big deal (and who wouldn’t feel this way after seeing all those people winning big bets on TV), countless sports betters each year fall on to hard times after losing money they didn’t have to lose, often resulting in:
- Panicky, short-sighted decisions (i.e. immediately bet again in an attempt to win back all the money just lost).
- Anxiety and depression, as well as other mental health issues that can impact family and career.
- Substance abuse issues in an attempt to “drink away the pain” of losing money.
- Problems with family and friends, especially when needing to lean on them to pay off gambling debt.
But who thinks of those things when you see ads showing people happy and swimming in piles of money after winning a big sports bet? In fact, why would you think of any of those things when today’s sports gambling ads only reveal the potential problems with gambling in the same ways pharmaceutical companies “warn” about potential side effects — in a 2-point font that races so fast along the bottom of your screen you have no idea what it was? Are these gambling companies really worried about what you might do to yourself by means of their offerings? And what do you make from the obligatory mental health messaging about gambling addiction? Can you square that kind of serious messaging with the same ad showing people jumping for joy after winning a big sports bet? What would get your attention — the morbid gambling addiction message, or the exciting big money hit from the bet you placed? All of this really makes you wonder if anyone is truly serious about informing the public of the very real dangers of gambling? Or helping those who get addicted and experience personal problems, including the concerns discussed above?
Sports gambling is becoming a really big problem for young people
Sports gambling is impacting a lot of people right now, but perhaps no group more than young people. Gambling is easy to do on your mobile device, and most bookmakers will provide some special perks (i.e. free bets!) to get you started — I mean, how will you know you like betting unless you try betting, right? Young people and their still-developing brains often give sports betting a try, and BOOM, before you know it they are betting all the time. In fact, scientists studying sports gambling and the effects on mental health refer to it as similar to a drug-high, hence the reason why bookmakers are eager to give you a free spin. Betting on your phone is so remarkably easy (no standing in line or getting cash together), and therein lies a big problem why so many young people are getting quickly hooked.
Watching sports these days is very different compared to generations from the past. Today, increasingly more fans watch sports not simply to see their team win, but to instead follow their bets and keep track of their fantasy teams. Rather than appreciate the amazing human talent on the field or court, we spend more time worrying about point spreads and injury reports. While some of these changes are harmless, there are very real dangers for those who choose to put money on the line gambling on sports, especially in situations where losing money leads to personal distress and financial problems.