We’re heading into the Super Bowl, a moment of joy and anticipation for most sports fans. But not for all. Definitely not with Steven Delaney. He has no plans to watch the big game. Watching sports of any kind might draw him back.
“I stay away from it all,” Delaney, 37, a truck driver from Ballston Spa, NY, said last week. “I’m not talking about sports. I don’t read about sports. I don’t want to know about the Super Bowl teams. It’s a risk I’m not ready to take.”
“I could lose everything,” he added.
Delaney battles addiction. His compulsion, which almost ruined his life: betting on sports. He’s hardly alone. About 2% of Americans, about 6.6 million people, are struggling with gambling addiction, according to Keith Whyte, executive director of the National Council on Problem Gambling. An increasing number of bets on sports.
Flood stations open in 2018 when Supreme Court overturns 1992 federal law that sports betting is limited primarily to Nevada.
Currently, about 30 states plus the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico allow live or online sports gambling. That means about 30 percent of Americans can legally bet on the Super Bowl where they live. In November, Californians will vote on open their status for sports betting or not.
Betting in sports is “endemic and so acceptable and pervasive that it is now a mainstay of US entertainment,” said Timothy Fong, one of the directors of the chess research program. silver at UCLA, said
“The question,” he continued, “what impact will this have on our mental health, our public health?”
Most of us can put some money down, have a little fun, and walk away unharmed. But not everyone.
Last week, when I reached out to nearly a dozen 82-year-olds and 17-year-olds in rehab for sports gambling, I heard horror stories. They told me about broken families, job losses and foreclosures. They talked about arrests, convictions, prison sentences, and suicides. I’ve heard how dangerous this time of year is: the end of the college football season, the NFL knockouts, all the money that can be won in the Super Bowl, or most likely lost.
Delaney won’t follow up. “Not after everything I’ve been through,” he said.
A former Jets fan who once had a podcast to discuss the team, Delaney developed a habit of betting on fantasy sports in 2007 of casual games with friends. It became an obsession in 2019. “It’s all accessible from my phone,” he said. “I started doing it compulsively. I would win $5,000 and say, ‘Now I know what I’m doing.’ So then I will bet bigger and bigger. I would lose big and start chasing to get it back.
“It’s like two people in my brain. I realize now that it was an addiction trying to work against the real me. I will stop. Then I would say to myself: ‘I have to get this money back. I had to go back to zero before my wife found out and my family found out. ‘”
At first he found this addiction easy to conceal. Delaney said His wife, Kelly, was able to sit next to him but was unaware that he was gambling the family’s 401(k) number on her phone.
His last bet was on May 2, 2021. Kelly caught him after reading an email about his account from a casino website. “It feels like a relief,” he said. Tired of lying and expressing that everything is fine, he commits to consulting Gamblers Anonymous. He even has a new podcast,”Fantasy or Reality? GPP” (short for Gambling Problem Podcast), which focuses on helping gamblers turn their situation around.
How do we get to a point where betting on sports becomes so alluring and encompassing?
It seems that every time we turn on the television or watch the internet, we are fooled by advertisements that hype legalized sports betting and online casinos.
Sports betting ads now underpin broadcast rights holders’ profits, with their ads appearing during game downtime and branded discounts being read over the air by analysts, who who studies parlays and spread as part of game action.
Casino ads can be spotted in all corners of the biggest stadiums. You can bet on games inside stadiums in Arizona and several other states, and some venues have even sold their naming rights to betting activities.
That’s a far cry from the tough stance against gambling that the biggest professional sports leagues have taken for decades. Football, basketball, and baseball have all stayed away from the world of gambling, partly out of fear that players will get stuck and end games to win large or obvious debts to the house.
In 1976, Pete Rozelle, the commissioner of the NFL, said this: “Legalized gambling in sporting events is destroying the sports itself and in the long run harms the public. “.
In 2012, the NFL’s current commissioner, Roger Goodell, had this to say: “It’s a view taken very seriously in the NFL – it’s been for decades – that the threat that gambling can pose to in the NFL or the fixation of games or any other possible outcome being influenced by outside influences can be very dangerous for the NFL and very difficult to recover from. “
In 2015, he still sings that tune: “We are against gambling. I don’t predict we’ll change that in the future. ”
Hypocrites. Now, sports leagues and media companies go hand in hand with casinos, down to the bank with multi-million dollar partnerships.
The bitter truth of addiction is masked by sleazy ads and damaging relationships, yet federal oversight is completely nonexistent.
Think about it. After years of consumer lawsuits and investigations that show the tobacco industry is doing all it can to get people hooked on a deadly product, the Food and Drug Administration has restricted Strict tobacco advertising: The last Marlboro Man commercial aired in 1999. You cannot buy a pack of cigarettes without a warning label that smoking can lead to cancer, lung disease, diabetes or other terrible diseases.
But if you tune in during Super Bowl week, get ready to watch a non-stop stream of festive commercials. They will discuss how you can place bets throughout the game on everything from tossing a coin to who will get the pass first. They will hype the fun of parlays and so-called risk-free, risk-free bets.
There is a price to pay. It can be devastating.
https://www.nytimes.com/2022/01/31/sports/football/super-bowl-sports-betting.html Rising human costs in sports betting