Sports betting has quickly become one of the most addictive forms of gambling in the nation. It’s everywhere, all the time — on your phone, computer, and TV. And it’s costing us more than just money. Sports betting is disrupting lives, distracting parents, derailing plans, and taking the fun out of watching sports.
Sports betting has reached a record-shattering level.
Take the 2023 Superbowl, for example. The American Gaming Association projected a record 50.4 million people would bet an astounding $16 billion on this year’s big game. That’s double the amount wagered on the 2022 Superbowl, and means close to half the 113 million people who watched the game had money on it.
All those wagers also led to significant losses for millions of bettors. According to DraftKings Sportsbook, as of the day before the Superbowl, a full 68% of the dollars wagered and 66% of all bets placed on the platform favored the Eagles to win. While the sportsbook didn’t publish just how much American’s wagered on the losing team, DraftKings is the second most popular sportsbook in the country with 2.6 million monthly users. There’s no question the losses were widespread and costly.
March Madness is another example of the staggering impact of sports betting. In 2022, 45 million Americans bet $3.1 billion on the tournament. This year, one survey predicts viewers will bet over $6 billion on the games — and 52% of that survey’s respondents plan to wager more than $50. Nebraska clients of NPGAP report that they often make bets on money they do not have to lose, risking rent, grocery money, and more.
Add that shocking sum to the billions of additional dollars wagered on soccer, baseball, and dozens of other sports, and you have a national crisis of multi-billion dollar proportions.
What makes sports betting so addictive? Culture, access, and airtime.
Justin Antons (MA, LIMHP, LADC, CDGC), a Helpline Specialist here at the Nebraska Problem Gamblers Assistance Program, says three specific factors work together to make sports betting particularly addictive and dangerously accessible:
If you have too much money, or not enough, sports betting can seem like the answer. The clients we work with often gamble because they don’t have enough to cover their bills. They see sports betting as a way to make easy money — not realizing how high the cost truly is. Others bet right after they get paid. They think of gambling as an investment, until they end up with tens of thousands of dollars in debt.
It’s dangerously accessible. Anyone with a smartphone, computer, or car can gamble themselves into financial distress.
It’s inescapable. Major sports networks are giving sportsbooks more airtime than ever. Sportsbooks are sponsoring entire games, fantasy sports commercials are common, and an increasing number of news segments and interviews are dedicated to talking about betting sites and gambling strategies. These all serve as triggers, pushing Nebraskans to bet more and more.
There’s another force at play too — prop bets.
Prop bets (like betting on which team will win the coin toss) draw gamblers in. While poker and slots are fast games gamblers can play over and over in a short period of time, sports betting is slower. Each sports game can last a few hours, so sportsbooks use prop bets to push bettors to gamble more and more on every game.
Sports betting is a dangerous trend, right here in our community.
Sports betting is one of the fastest-growing and most addictive threats to Nebraskans because the triggers are everywhere. And what starts out as an occasional pastime during your favorite sporting event can quickly become a serious threat to your finances, mental health, and loved ones.
At the NPGAP, we help gamblers and their families experience the freedom of life without betting. Our free counseling and resources make changing your gambling possible — so you can get back to loving your favorite sports, no bets needed.
If sports betting is a problem in your life, these action steps are a good place to start.
We know changing your gambling can feel overwhelming. But if you’re serious about finding a way forward, and enjoying sports again, these simple steps can make progress possible:
Reach out for help. Call 1-833-BETOVER (238-6837) or text 402-806-7344 and talk to Justin. As a trained professional in problem gambling, he’s helped hundreds of sports bettors and their families find the resources and counseling they need to experience breakthrough. And he’ll help you, too.
Develop a support system. Surround yourself with friends and family who will keep you focused on your “why,” the reason you want to be free from betting. When you feel like putting a wager on that game, or can’t stop thinking about spreads, your support system gives you another reason to enjoy the game — without the wagers.
Delete triggering apps from your phone. Delete your bookie apps and any accounts that trigger you to bet. If you get your sports news from Twitter, YouTube, or another source, erase your profile. The less triggers on your devices, the easier it is to enjoy the thrill of sports without the costs of betting.
Sports betting is an increasing threat — for you and your loved ones.
Looking for a way forward? Want to help your loved one, but aren’t sure how to support them without pushing them away? At the Nebraska Problem Gamblers Assistance Program, any Nebraskan can access free, confidential support and resources from a pro — for themselves or a loved one.
Together, we’ll talk about your situation and the free resources available to you. Then we’ll make a plan to help you set limits on your betting, get out of debt, rebuild your finances, and experience a life free from gambling.
To learn more and get help, call 1-833-BETOVER (238-6837) or text 402-806-7344 — and start making real progress.