Expert Warns of Problems of Gambling Addiction Ahead of Super Bowl LVII

Grant Mitchell
Grant Mitchell
NFL News


  • Sportsbooks handled over $80 billion in wagers in 2022
  • The Super Bowl is the most popular event for sports bettors in America
  • Gambling can have the same effects on the brain as alcoholism and drug addiction

If you haven’t heard, sports betting is the hottest topic in America—so much so that the lines between fandom and addictive gambling are being blurred.

Legal sportsbooks accepted over $80 billion in wagers thanks to marquee events like the World Cup, as well as several states passing legislation allowing bettors to access betting sites. That was par for the course, as 36 states have now legalized sports betting since it became possible in 2018. 

But with all of the momentum behind the gambling phenomenon, there are growing concerns about irresponsible gambling. That’s why an expert has issued a warning ahead of the Super Bowl.

The big game

The Super Bowl draws more betting volume and capital than any other sports event in America. Last year, an excess of $7.6 billion in wagers was accepted by sportsbooks across the country despite Florida, California, and Texas being among key absentees.

It is therefore no surprise that sportsbooks are expecting this year’s Super Bowl to cause many bettors to submit their first-ever wagers. 

Sportsbooks are also aware of the power they hold and often offer lucrative promotions during major events, including the upcoming Super Bowl. 

FanDuel, for example, is offering users a cut of $10 million in bonus bets if NFL legend Rob Gronkowski nails a 25-yard field goal during the big game. That alone should be enough to get many fringe gamblers to create accounts and submit bets. 

Dr. James Whelan, professor and director of the Tennessee Institute for Gambling Education and Research in Memphis, believes that bettors often have the wrong attitude about gambling. Instead of looking at it as a source of entertainment and add-on to the spectacle of the game, they see it as a way to reverse their financial fortunes.

“People gamble for the hope that they can fix everything, and that makes you hang on longer,” said Whelan. “If you find yourself really chasing losses that you have, that's sort of a very basic sign that you want to pause.” 

Even with the warnings, a vast majority of people with gambling problems never get the help they need. Many are also afraid to talk about their struggles due to the stigma surrounding gambling addiction.

Heavy influences

According to the Mayo Clinic, “Gambling can stimulate the brain's reward system much like drugs or alcohol can.” They encourage joining gambling addiction groups and talking to loved ones, should problems with addiction reveal themselves.

There are several paths to reducing the dangers of gambling. For instance, many sportsbooks now allow users to self-impose deposit limits to ensure they are not sending more money than they can afford to sportsbooks.

Experts also recommend setting budgets outside of the heat of the moment to limit emotional response. This can provide users with a clear road map of how much they can gamble and when they can do it without creating problems for themselves.

“When you're not wrapped up and excited about the game—when you're in a pretty calm situation—that's the time that you can sit back and say, ‘ah, I can spend 100 bucks this weekend,’” said Whelan.

Whelan hopes that anyone struggling with the negative effects of problem gambling dares to seek help before the Super Bowl rolls around. 

As far as the game itself goes, a combination of the Cincinnati Bengals or Kansas City Chiefs and the San Francisco 49ers or Philadelphia Eagles will square off for the title. Three of the four, excluding the Eagles, made their respective conference championship games last season and are trying to cement themselves as the perennial powerhouse in the NFL.

The game will kick off at 3:30 p.m. local time on Sunday, February 12, inside State Farm Arena in Glendale, Arizona.

Grant is a sports and sports betting journalist who prides himself in his up-to-the-minute reporting on the latest events in the industry. A member of Virginia Tech’s 2021 graduating class, he has quickly put together an impressive portfolio since moving to the professional world full-time. Grant’s favorite sports to cover are basketball and both types of football (American and soccer), and he is pushing written, audio, and video content. He has been employed by companies as highly regarded as Forbes and continues on a great trajectory in the industry. When he’s not on the clock, you can find Grant at the gym, looking for adventures, or hanging out with his family.