Is Sports Betting Considered Gambling?

Every month, thousands of Americans go online to inquire about whether or not sports betting and gambling are the same thing. The motivation behind this query is curious. We suppose that some simply want to know if their winnings are taxable (they are). However, we suspect that the majority are wondering if they are participating in an activity that has the potential to be just as dangerous as casino gaming when it comes to compulsive or addictive behavior. Given that cultural and societal factors may increase their (your) risk for developing gambling disorder, we will answer the question immediately before going any further. Is sports betting considered gambling? Yes, it is. Below is everything else you need to know.

How Sports Betting is Just as Dangerous (or more so) as Casino Gaming When it Comes to the Threat of Problem Gambling

Sports Betting Meets the Definition of Gambling

You asked, so it bears repeating – sports betting is gambling. The answer is the same whether you reference material from the Responsible Gambling Council, the Encyclopedia of Brittanica, or Wikipedia to arrive at the exact same conclusion that we’ve provided here today. The definition of gambling spells it out:

“Gambling involves the betting or staking, of something of value, with consciousness of risk and hope of gain, on the outcome of a game, a contest, or an uncertain event whose result may be determined by chance or accident or have an unexpected result by reason of the bettor’s miscalculation.”


Sports Bettors Have Double the Rate of Problem Gambling

If the answer that sports betting is a form of gambling wasn’t enough to give you pause, consider this; research shows that sports bettors have double the rate of problem gambling than traditional casino gamblers. Sports bettors are more vulnerable to problematic gambling behavior due to differences in attitudes towards gambling, personality traits, thinking styles, erroneous cognitions, and gambling motivations.

While both types of gamblers (casino gamers and sports bettors) exhibit similar behavioral traits such as risk-taking and thrill-seeking, sports bettors are armed with a false sense of knowledge and skill that they incorrectly assume will work in their favor when placing wagers. They also have allegiances to leagues/teams that may further impact rational decision making:

“Sports fans in general tend to be loyal to their game or team. So perhaps it’s not surprising we found that sports gamblers are more motivated to bet to demonstrate their knowledge of the game or for intellectual challenge or because of the excitement and connection to others that it brings.”

University of Guelph

It’s important to note that potential for knowledge and skill to help sports bettors come out on top was obliterated by the sports betting industry when it introduced the concept of spread betting. Spread betting “leveled” the playing field to the benefit of sportsbooks and bookies.

More on How Sports Betting is More Dangerous than Casino Gambling in America

Sports betting fits the criteria of gambling, and has twice the potential for developing gambling disorder. Is that not enough to rethink your participation in or complicity regarding the risky activity? Then consider the following:

  • Nearly 65 million Americans have bet on sports in the most recent year
  • Sports betting is mass marketed in the USA on a much larger scale than casino gaming
  • Sports betting is targeting American youth

For greater insight into how sports betting is one of the most underestimated threats to America’s mental and behavioral health, click here.

Is Sports Betting a Problem in Your Life?

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