Gambling can be a highly stimulating activity. When you gamble, your brain releases dopamine, the feel-good neurotransmitter that makes you feel excited. You might expect dopamine to be released only when you win, but in reality, your body produces these neurological responses even when you lose.
For many bettors, once the thrill of the moment takes over, it can be difficult to recognize when it’s time to quit playing. That’s when the fun stops and the problems — financial and otherwise — begin to mount. It’s crucial to know the signs of gambling addiction before it’s too late. And with the Super Bowl being the largest sports betting event of the year, it’s also the most common time for problems to arise.
Over 5 million Americans could have a gambling problem
With Maryland online sports betting now available to Marylanders, betting on the Super Bowl is going to be intense. In December alone, Maryland players bet more than $478 million. Super Bowl LVII betting in the state could easily double that amount.
Debt.org estimates that around 15% of Americans place wagers at least once a week. More than 5 million people could be dealing with a gambling problem. Even more striking is the average amount of debt a problem gambler accumulates. For men, it’s between $55,000 and $90,000. For women, it’s about $15,000.
There are myriad factors that can put a person at risk for developing a gambling problem. These can range from a person’s cultural beliefs and values to mental health issues, such as stress and impulsivity.
It’s important to know how to practice responsible gambling. Should you falter, though, it’s also essential to be able to detect the warning signs suggesting that you, or a loved one, may have a problem with gambling.
Ten gambling addiction signs to watch for
Assessing your own behavior isn’t always easy, but that’s the only way to determine if you have a gambling problem. Here’s a list of signs that can help you identify any issues you may be having with gambling.
1) Being constantly preoccupied with thoughts of gambling
If you’re continually thinking about gambling, thinking about the last time you went or perhaps the next time you plan to go, chances are your relationship with gambling is unhealthy.
2) Spending more and more money to get the same thrill as before
Previously, a bet of $50 would afford you the proper thrill. Now, perhaps you have to wager $350 or more to feel the same thrill. And even though you know you can’t afford to fund this habit, you continue to bet more in the hopes of winning big.
3) Attempts to curb, control or cut back on gambling have failed
You may find it increasingly difficult to walk away from gambling, especially when you’re losing. Previous attempts at preventing yourself from gambling have not worked because you keep succumbing to the temptation.
4) Trying to limit your gambling makes you antsy and irritable
You may become restless or irritable much like someone with a substance abuse problem if you aren’t able to gamble.
5) Gambling becomes an escape from other problems
Many people dealing with negative emotions like anxiety, guilt or depression may find themselves using gambling as a coping mechanism. Studies have shown that gambling never alleviates these emotional problems, it only exacerbates them.
6) Your mission is to win back all the money you lost to gambling
You might find it hard to come to terms with the amount of money you’ve lost. Consequently, you resolve to win it all back. But since gambling often boils down to fate and luck, you’re more likely to dig a deeper hole.
7) You lie to close ones to hide your gambling habits
Having a hobby is a healthy habit. However, if you have a hobby that causes you to lie to loved ones about engaging in it, it’s time to re-evaluate it.
8) You engage in reckless behavior to hide losses or get more money
To cover your gambling tracks, you find yourself shifting money from one account to another. You may justify siphoning a few bucks from your children’s college fund, or worse, turn to criminal activities to fund your out-of-control behavior.
9) You jeopardize important relationships, your career & other important life aspects to gamble
All of a sudden, gambling has become a top priority for you. All else now comes second to your need to satiate your gambling drive.
10) Friends & family have to bail you out of a tough financial situation
Problem gamblers often find themselves in a pickle and must ask for financial help from those close to them. If this has happened to you, you may very well be on the road to gambling addiction.
Responsible betting practices for Super Bowl LVII
According to the American Gaming Association, an estimated $7.61 billion was wagered on last year’s Super Bowl. This year, the AGA estimates upwards of $16 million will be wagered on the game nationwide — more than a 60% increase from 2022. Likewise, the cases of problem gambling will also rise.
One of the most common triggers of sports betting addiction is brought about by sportsbooks themselves. Their messages of turning small bets into extravagant payouts are blasted all over TV and social media.
As a bettor, especially a novice one, it’s important to understand the true likelihood of an outcome compared with the odds that sportsbooks offer.
Before placing wagers on the big game this Sunday, it’s recommended to make use of the responsible gambling features found in the account settings of most sportsbook apps. There you can set a limit on the amount you bet and the time spent on the app. Doing so can help you avoid getting swept away by the emotional rollercoaster of Super Bowl LVII.
And if setting account limits isn’t enough, Maryland also offers a voluntary exclusion program where bettors can self-exclude from gambling for a set period of time.