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Signs of Sports Betting Addiction

This blog outlines the latest insights and information about sports betting, including the signs of sports betting addiction and where to get help.

What is sports betting?

Sports betting is a type of gambling where players put a wager on sporting events. The majority of betting is on traditional professional sports, such as football, horse racing, boxing, basketball, baseball, hockey, rugby, cricket and cycling. However, sports betting can also extend to non-athletic events, such as reality TV shows, political elections and entertainment awards.

In some countries, or regions of countries, sports betting is banned but in most parts of the world it is considered a legitimate form of gambling, and is licensed and regulated by special commissions. In the US, the federal ban on sports betting was lifted by the Supreme Court in 2018. Since then, many states have legalized sports betting.

Sports bettors place their bets either legally, through a bricks and mortar or online bookmaker (also known as a betting agency or sportsbook), or illegally through privately-run enterprises. Bookmakers offer the odds for sporting events and there are many types of wagers to choose from. Here are some of the most popular ones:

  • Moneyline bets require the chosen team to win the game outright.
  • Spread betting is based on the accuracy of the bet, rather than a simple win or lose outcome.
  • Over-under bets are based on the total score between both teams.
  • Proposition bets are made on a specific element of a match not related to the final score – for example predicting the number of goals a player will score.
  • Accumulators or parleys involves multiple bets that give a greater payout if all predictions are correct.

Sports betting is becoming increasingly popular for esports (competitive online video gaming). Esports betting is more or less identical to traditional sports betting, except that players can choose between cash-based or skins-based websites when betting on esports matches. During the Covid-19 pandemic, esports viewership increased dramatically when virtually all real-life sports events were cancelled. The sports betting industry immediately turned to esports and many traditional sports bettors switched to esports too.

With the surge of online sports gambling, it is easier than ever for players to place bets without having to leave home. However, this 24/7 access is leading to a growth in sports betting addiction.

Dive Deeper: The Psychology of Sports Betting

Sports betting statistics

  • A 2017 US survey found that 45% of respondents had placed a bet on a sporting event at least once in their lives, although only 4% reported doing so regularly. (Statista, 2018)
  • The same survey reported that 45% of all online gambling worldwide comes from sports betting. In second place was casino online gambling at 24%. (Statista, 2018)
  • 20% of American males said that they participate in sports betting, compared to 7% of females. (Morning Consult, 2020)
  • In a 2020 survey, the age group with the most sports betting participants in the US was 30-44 years olds (22%). (Statista, 2020)
  • A 2017 survey of US adults who participate in sports betting, asked what they liked about the pastime: Makes sports more interesting (45%), enjoy a side game while watching the main event (38%), enjoy betting as a way of competing with friends or colleagues (34%) for the excitement or thrill (29%). (Statista, 2017)
  • The sports with the highest share of sports betting interest in the US in 2019: National Football League (61%) National Basketball Association (58%) Major League Baseball (53%) Boxing (42%) Horse racing (35%) National Hockey League (32%) National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing (28%) Esports (23%) Major League Soccer (21%) Women’s National Basketball Association (16%). (Statista, 2019)
  • Total sports betting revenue in the US is forecast to reach $2.5 billion in 2021 and, by 2025, this figure is anticipated to grow to $8 billion. (Statista, 2021)

Signs and symptoms of sports betting addiction

Most people who participate in sports betting do so recreationally but for others it can become addictive, like a drug. Here are some common signs and symptoms that your sports betting may be spiralling out of control:

  • Constantly thinking about betting and planning how and when to place your next bet.
  • Needing to bet with increasing amounts of money to find the same high.
  • Trying to control, cut down or stop betting, without success.
  • Feeling sad, irritable, restless or anxious when not betting, and in extreme cases, becoming aggressive or violent.
  • Betting to escape problems or relieve feelings of stress, anxiety or depression.
  • Betting more to recover losses but in most cases losing more money.
  • Missing out on education or career opportunities because of the time and energy spent betting.
  • Becoming distant from friends, family and colleagues.
  • Resorting to theft or fraud to support the habit.
  • Lying to cover up the extent of the problem.
  • Getting into debt.
  • Asking others for financial help because large sums of money have been lost through betting.

If the above signs and symptoms resonate with you, or a loved one is displaying some of these behaviors, it is time to seek professional help. Take our gambling disorder test.

Dangers of sports betting

While some people engage in sports betting without any notable at-risk behaviors, for others it can become a dangerous addiction. Left untreated, sports betting addiction can have many negative social, psychological and physical repercussions.

These include relationship conflict and breakdown; debt, financial problems and bankruptcy; work issues and job loss; stress, anxiety and depression; and insomnia, lack of appetite and stomach problems. In extreme cases it can lead to suicidal thoughts and attempts.

How to get help for sports betting addiction

Kindbridge – Sports Betting Awareness

If you are worried about your sports betting, or you think someone else might have a gambling addiction, Kindbridge can help.

We believe that treating sports betting addiction is not only about addressing the betting problem but also supporting your overall mental health and well-being. Our highly-qualified therapists will design a personalized recovery plan to help you regain control and get your life back on track.

Take our gambling disorder test then get in touch to book your free and confidential 30-minute consultation.

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