Super Bowl 51: Keeping it a “safe bet”

| February 2, 2017

No matter your pick for the 51st Super Bowl, we’ve got tips for keeping your time a safe bet.

The Super Bowl and March Madness are the two biggest sports betting events of the year. An estimated $4.7 Billion will be bet in the U.S. on this year’s Super Bowl (legal and illegal — last year’s legal betting in Vegas alone weighed in at a $132 million).

For most, a Super Bowl bet is harmless entertainment–it’s a little extra fodder for jabbing at the office in the days following the Super Bowl, or maybe adding a few extra (or fewer) bucks to the wallet. But for about 1 in every 37 Americans, gambling has become more than just fun. It’s a serious problem that interferes with their lives and an average of six to 10 other people around them. The problem has quite a reach and affects families, jobs, and even the economy.

This is a time when you might recognize when someone cares a little too much about certain odds or scores. In fact, you might even recognize a gambling problem in a friend that you may not have noticed before.

For recovering problem gamblers, the Super Bowl can be a source of stress — and tempting if others around them are betting. According to the Connecticut Council on Problem Gambling, “For active problem gamblers, it’s a time to hold on to the irrational conviction they’re only one bet away from winning everything back.”

So how would you know if someone’s got a problem with gambling? We’re not suggesting anyone be the “gambling police,” just keep an eye on our friends and family if they seem to have gone too far.

Signs of more than just a fun game-day bet

Here are a few things to look out for:

  • Does he or she seem unusually hung up on a certain detail of the game? Maybe even change who they’re rooting for, based on the score or a certain player’s stats? (i.e., was s/he a rabidly rooting for the Patriots  and suddenly demands to wear your Julio Jones jersey?)
  • Does s/he seem to talk about odds a lot? Or constantly checking their fantasy sports app?
  • Is s/he offering to sell or trade something for a bet, because s/he’s out of money?

General tips about loved ones, no matter whether they like sports bets or video poker machines, keno, etc.:

  • Are they spending more and more time on gambling? More money?
  • Can they stick with limits on their betting/gambling or are they having trouble with it?
  • Do they “chase” losses with more gambling, trying to win back money?
  • Do they seem to hide their gambling, or lie about how much and when they have gambled?
  • Check out a full list of signs of a gambling problem.

Some helpful tips and a final word

  • Always set a limit on time and money — and stick with it.
  • Avoid betting if you’re intoxicated (!) — or if you’re mad, sad, hungry or tired. (Hungry / Angry / Lonely  Tired — HALT — This is a good idea no matter what the decision, including the bean dip you swore off earlier.)
  • Don’t try to “chase” bets you’ve lost with more bets.
  • Parents, set a good example this Sunday for your kids with alcohol and bets. Ads are a good opportunity to talk about not “needing” bets to have fun.
  • Check out our full list of responsible gambling tips.

The good news is that, if you know someone with a problem, help is free and confidential — for them and/or their loved ones — by calling the 24-hour Oregon gambling help line at 1-877-MY-LIMIT (click for the website, which also includes chat help). (In the rest of the U.S., the 24-hour helpline is 800-522-4700). Help is easy to access and it works! (And, yes, it really is free.) Certified gambling treatment counselors answer the phone every single time.

So, no matter how long it takes Luke Bryan to sing the National Anthem, or whether Lady Gaga overshadows everyone at the halftime show, we hope you enjoy the big game… and all the commercials that come along with it.   Cheers!

Ms. Hynes is a prevention specialist, a fan of the lowly 49ers, and does not gamble (with the exception of being a mom, which is a pretty good gamble every day). 

Resources for help:
Oregon: | U.S.: National Council on Problem Gambling

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Category: Problem Gambling

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