Janesville22°

Sports betting becomes growing problem for many

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Rose Gruber
June 23, 2011

We welcome the New Year with college bowl games, then look for the NFL playoffs and Super Bowl. Before long itís March Madness, the hockey playoffs and the start of the NASCAR and baseball seasons, then the Kentucky Derby.


For fans, thereís no end to the fun and excitement with the constant barrage of sporting events. But for those addicted to sports gambling, itís a barrage of a whole different level. Thereís certainly no single picture that accurately describes the typical problem or compulsive gambler. The affliction strikes young and old, men and women, affluent and poor.


But there are definitely growing groups of problem gamblers, including teens, women and seniors. One major subgroup is made up of young men who look to the sporting world to place bets and canít control their habit.


The availability of Internet sports betting is certainly an influence. Today, with high-speed Internet and smartphones, anyone can place a bet anywhere and anytime. Thereís also a common misconception that itís only the losers who have problems as a result of their gambling habits. While those who do lose on a regular basis face additional financial issues, those who break even or even show a profit also find out that their addiction is disruptive.


The sports betting is typically very disruptive to family life because of the amount of time the wagering occupies for the compulsive gambler. Thereís usually time analyzing the upcoming games and placing the bets, but there is also all of the time spent watching the games to see the outcome and then often the disappointment of another loss. So what signs should you be looking for if thereís someone in your life who might be hooked on sports betting? Consider the following:


--Excessive use of Internet or phone bills to 900-number services.


--Obsession with point spreads or ďfantasyĒ scores.


--Unusual interest in obscure games or shifting of allegiances of teams.


--Association with other sports bettors.


--Frequently borrowing money from friends or family.


--Defensive when asked about gambling.


--Debts, unpaid bills, financial troubles.


--After losing, desiring to bet again to win back losses.


Of course, the vast majority of people can enjoy sports and place a few bets for fun and entertainment. Unfortunately, some will lose more than they planned to and will be led down the road to problem and compulsive gambling. For those, help is just a phone call away at 1-800-GAMBLE-5, the statewide Problem Gambling Helpline operated by the Wisconsin Council on Problem Gambling.


The Wisconsin Council on Problem Gambling provides resources, public awareness and education on problem and pathological gambling disorders while maintaining strict neutrality on the issue of legalized gambling. For more information, visit www.wi-problemgamblers.org.


Rose Gruber is executive director of the Wisconsin Council on Problem Gambling. Readers can reach her at (920) 437-8888 or wcpgamble5-rose@new.rr.com.

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