The Super Bowl has arrived, and with it, the excitement of sports betting. As the popularity of this activity continues to grow, an estimated 26% of Americans are expected to place bets on the big game. This rise in gambling has sparked concerns among health professionals about a potential increase in gambling addiction.
In Billings, Shooters Bar and Grill was buzzing with anticipation as customers like Wyatt Burns and Kevin Curley prepared for the Super Bowl. “I came here to have a beer and a shot, just to kind of loosen up before the festivities begin,” Burns said on Sunday. “I bet big,” added Curley.
While these two individuals may not be part of the growing number of people struggling with gambling addiction, experts warn that it’s an area of concern. “Nationwide, as to the prevalence of the number of people that we suspect have a gambling disorder is about 1% of the population,” said Matt Perdue, medical director for Frontier Psychiatry in Billings. This equates to approximately 3.4 million Americans who may be at risk for developing an addiction to gambling.
One area of concern is the ease of access through mobile platforms, which often incentivize people to start placing bets. “Montana’s really followed this nationwide trend over the past couple years with setting records each year for revenue collected from gambling,” Perdue noted. However, he cautioned that data from only five years since sports betting was legalized in 2019 limits their ability to fully understand the impact on addiction rates.
For some individuals like Burns, sports betting is just another way to have fun – even if they don’t always win. “For the most part, I’ve got self-control,” he joked. “I’ve had a few losses where I woke up next morning and said ah let’s not do that again.”