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March 27, 2012 Print

Dig Deeper: Best Bet of All

by Chad Hills

March Madness, otherwise known as the NCAA College Basketball Tournaments, and the Super Bowl are the two most common sporting events, on which people place bets.

Most Popular Sports Gambling (Click to Enlarge)


Granted, nobody ever intentionally plans to become addicted to gambling, but more than a fair share of casual sports bettors have been caught by this deep and devastating hook.

According to a Phoenix, Arizona CBS News 5:

Sports gambling experts predict more than $7 billion will be wagered illegally on this year’s NCAA college basketball tournament, and some of the participants will end up with a gambling problem.

… “Cars, homes, relationships, wives, you can lose all of it,” said Steve (a 69-year-old grandfather, who is recovering from a sports-gambling addiction). “It can get to the point people don’t want to go on anymore and feel there is no way out.”

The hopelessness described by Steve is common among those who become pathologically addicted to gambling.

Gambling addiction steals everything from a person: spouse, friends, family, job, money, credibility, self-control and self-worth. It’s a terrible, fast, addiction-driven downward spiral into deep desperation and depression.

The hopelessness becomes so deeply ingrained that one in five pathological gamblers will attempt suicide; furthermore, one in 10 spouses of addicted gamblers will attempt suicide. The impact of gambling addiction devastates marriages and families. Experts estimate each gambling addict negatively affects between 12 and 17 other friends, family, employers and government services.

Read more stories of gambling addiction’s destruction of lives and families …

Addiction Cycle

Central Michigan Life interviewed Central Michigan University assistant professor Tim Otteman, who travels around the country speaking about sports gambling and college athletics. “If they continue to be involved in this behavior, they move from basketball and football to hockey, baseball, cricket, soccer,” Otteman said. “What starts small and socially acceptable with a $5 bracket could lead to betting hundreds and thousands per game.”

Former mob boss and sports-gambling bookie, Michael Franzese, also warns college students about the dangers of illegal gambling.

Nebraska’s ABC News 8 tells the story of Jack, a man who became addicted to NCAA basketball gambling. For 80 percent of the people gambling on their Final Four teams, the article said, it’s just another round of March Madness. But for the other 20 percent, it’s an addiction.

“You don’t really know what you’re doing a lot of the time. It takes a hold of you,” said Jack.

PR Newswire reports that, “Given the tenfold growth of the gambling industry in the U.S. since 1975 … 6 to 9 million Americans have a gambling problem in any given year.”

If we add those who are underage and addicted to gambling, this number will likely double. Consider the National Gambling Impact Study Commission report, released in June of 1999 – more than a decade ago, estimated that “… there were 7.5 million American adult problem and pathological gamblers (5.3 million problem and 2.2 million pathological). The study also estimated there were 7.9 million American adolescent problem and pathological gamblers (5.7 million problem and 2.2 million pathological).” [see NGISC report, Chapter 4, p. 1]

Combined, there are more than 15 million adults and children addicted to gambling – or about 214 NFL football stadiums filled to capacity. Although this may represent a small percentage of the entire population, it’s still a huge number of people who are damaged, hurt or destroyed by gambling addictions.

Researchers find that gambling addiction is now a bigger problem than alcoholism in the U.S.

What’s the best bet on sports? Not to bet on sports.

Do any of you know of someone who has gotten into trouble betting on sports? We would love for you to share your story with CitizenLink.com (no full names or profanity, please).

 Dig Deeper …