Most people engage in sports betting recreationally without any negative consequences. However, for others it can become an all-consuming addiction that causes significant harm.
This blog outlines the dangers of sports betting, the main signs and symptoms of sports betting addiction and explains how to stop sports betting if it is spiralling out of control.
What is sports betting?
Sports betting is a type of gambling that usually involves placing a bet on the outcome of a sporting event and winning (or losing) money if the team or player that has been selected wins (or loses). Only a small percentage of people are able to make money in the long run but millions of people around the world bet on sporting events every year.
There are three types of sports betting in the US:
- Traditional sports betting which involves a wager on the outcome of a sports event or an occurrence within an event. This is often a social bet with another person. When a bet is made through a gambling institution it is against the house (as opposed to betting against other players) and involves odds set by professional oddsmakers.
- Fantasy sports betting is when players form a fantasy sports league and each contestant chooses a team of real players from a professional sport. Winners and losers are determined by the performance of the players over the course of a season.
- Sports contests is a type of sports betting where players compete against each other (rather than against the house) by picking winners for a series of games. Prizes are awarded to those who pick the most winners.
Sports betting is a multi-billion-dollar industry that is expected to continue growing exponentially. One of the key factors driving this increase is the significant technological advances that are providing a greater range of betting opportunities and 24/7 access. Another major factor is the growing number of people worldwide who can now legally take part. A 2018 US Supreme Court ruling lifted the federal ban on sports betting in most states, resulting in many states legalizing betting on sports, and across the world sports wagering is likely to continue being regulated and licensed in more and more countries.
Sports betting statistics
The 2018 National Survey on Gambling Attitudes and Gambling Experience 1.0 commissioned by the National Council on Problem Gambling questioned 28,000 US adults to understand their experiences and attitudes about various forms of gambling. The survey found that:
- Sports bettors are three or more times as likely than those gamblers who did not bet on sports to report frequent risky behavior.
- Those betting weekly on sports are five or more times more likely to report frequent risky behavior.
- These disparities are even greater for those betting on fantasy sports.
The report stated that it is unknown whether sports betting results in risky behavior, or if those who are more prone to risky behavior are drawn to sports betting.
Dangers of sports betting
If you have sports betting addiction, you are likely to be experiencing a range of negative financial, psychological and physical consequences.
The dangers of excessive sports betting can build up over time or affect your life very quickly. However they occur, the outcomes tend to be the same: relationship breakdowns, financial problems, education or career difficulties, mental health issues and physical health struggles.
In order to avoid the risks of sports betting, it is important to understand the signs and symptoms that your behavior is turning into a dangerous addiction.
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Signs and symptoms of sports betting addiction
The American Psychiatric Association recognizes gambling disorder as repeated, problem gambling behavior that will continue even when it causes significant problems. The fifth edition of its Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM–5) advises that gambling disorder (which includes sports betting addiction) is indicated by a person exhibiting four or more of the following signs or symptoms in a 12-month period:
- Needing to gamble with increasing amounts of money to achieve the same thrill or high.
- Feeling restless or irritable when trying to cut down or stop gambling.
- Making numerous unsuccessful attempts to control, cut back or stop gambling.
- Being persistently preoccupied with gambling – reliving past gambling experiences, planning the next opportunity to gamble, thinking of ways to get money to gamble.
- Gambling when distressed as a way of escaping negative feelings.
- After losing money gambling, chasing losses in an attempt to get even.
- Lying to hide the extent of gambling activities.
- Jeopardizing or losing a significant relationship, job, or educational or career opportunity because of gambling.
- Asking others for money to help with financial problems caused by gambling.
If you, or someone you know, is showing four or more of the above signs of sports betting addiction, you should consider seeking help.
How to stop sports betting
According to the American Psychiatric Association only one in 10 people with gambling disorder seeks treatment. However, if you have sports betting addiction, you are unlikely to be able to stop engaging in sports betting without professional help.
At Kindbridge, we recognize that different therapeutic approaches work better for different people. We use several types of therapy to treat gambling disorders like sports betting addiction. These include cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and family therapy. Support from friends and family can be an important part of the recovery journey but only if you are ready to confront your sports betting behavior.
Professional therapy will help you understand your sports betting and think about how it affects you and your loved ones. We will match you to a fully licensed therapist who can help you:
- Gain control over your sports betting.
- Heal relationships with family and friends.
- Deal with stress and other psychological problems.
- Find other activities and ways to spend your time.
- Maintain recovery and recognize relapse warnings.
- Learn how to avoid triggers.
Take the first step to a happier and healthier life. Get in touch to book a free and confidential 30-minute consultation.