Super Bowl gambling, harmless fun or addictive behavior?

Super Bowl XLVII brings the big game back to New Orleans for the first time in over 10 years and in the post Hurricane Katrina era. Super Bowl 47 also brings headlines of two brothers facing off for the first time in Super Bowl history being dubbed the HarBowl, after the respective coaches’ last name Harbaugh. Millions of people will engage in this social event and spend time at parties across the country.  However, Super Bowl Sunday is also one of the largest social gambling events in the nation. The Morning Sentinel points to the 2007 Super Bowl as having an estimated $8 billion in wagers placed on its outcome. This flashy, center-stage event brings out several “social” gamblers, some of whom consider placing little bets here and there, and on unusual outcomes, known as prop bets.  These prop bets are generally for some ridiculous situations.  Yahoo Sports provides various examples:

Times “Harbaugh” will be said during game: over/under 21.5.  Length of postgame handshake/hug between Harbaugh brothers: over/under 7.5 seconds. Times Jack Harbaugh shown during game: over/under 2.5. How long will it take Alicia Keys to sing National Anthem: over/under 2 minutes, 15 seconds.  Will Alicia Keys be booed? Yes is +500 (bet $100 to win $500).  Will Alicia Keys mess up the lyrics? Yes is +170. Will Jay-Z join Beyonce on stage during halftime show? Yes is +110. Will Beyonce’s hair be straight, not curly? Yes is +110.

Obviously these Super Bowl bets range from straightforward to ridiculous, but are they just for fun or harmful? The Morning Sentinel article reported that Guy Cousins, acting director of Maine Office of Substance Abuse, estimates that 3 to 5 percent of those who participate in wagering will become problem gamblers. Another expert mentioned, Lee Thompson, president of the Maine Council on Problem Gambling explained, “We’ve seen an increase in the calls from Maine to the Nation Council on Problem Gambling hotline, from eight calls a month in 2003 to over 100 a month in 2006.”

It appears that the glitzy glam of the Super Bowl attracts people to make social wagers, a harmless bit of fun in their mind. But the dollar amount waged on the Super Bowl climbs each year, as does the number of problem gamblers.

For more information on the dangers of gambling, please visit CASINO WATCH & CASINO WATCH FOUNDATION



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