Over the past few years, the trend of online sports betting has been on the rise. However, while some individuals enjoy it without any issues, others may become addicted. Online sports betting can lead to a “get rich quick “mentality, which can create unrealistic expectations and disappointment. Additionally, there is potential for fraud and scams with many fraudulent websites claiming to offer legitimate betting opportunities. It is crucial to remember that sports betting is a form of gambling, and there are no guarantees of winning. One of the most significant consequences of online sports betting is the potential for addiction, particularly among individuals in their twenties who have easy access to betting platforms on their mobile devices and are targeted by sports betting companies.

Gambling addiction can lead to financial problems, relationship issues, and mental health conditions. This can include but not be limited to deep debt, bankruptcy, illegal activities like stealing, divorce, alienation from children, isolation from the community, etc. There is a proven correlation between gambling and sports betting as well as its negative impacts on mental health, including depression, anxiety, and even suicidal thoughts.  As online sports betting can be done in the comfort of one’s own home without social cues to discourage excessive gambling, it can be a challenge for those with addictive tendencies. It is crucial to be aware of the potential negative effects of online sports betting, especially on young adults who may be more susceptible to developing a gambling addiction. To combat this issue, parents and educators need to have open and honest conversations with young adults about the risks associated with online sports betting. Signs of a problem may include preoccupation with betting, loss of control over time and money spent, withdrawal symptoms, including irritability, and continued use despite negative consequences. This could cause an inability for the individual and those affected by problem gambling to refrain from discussing their issues openly due to fear of judgment. It is important to know that you are not alone! Seeking professional support from resources such as hotlines, support groups, and licensed therapists or counselors who specialize in gambling addiction can be helpful. The National Council on Problem Gambling offers a 24/7 helpline (1-800-522-4700), the Center for Problem Gambling and Gamblers Anonymous (https://www.gamblersanonymous.org/ga/) are resources that offer support and recovery-based groups.  Assistance is available! For more information about the Center for Problem Gambling, contact (518)462-6531 to schedule an intake. Gamblers Anonymous meetings are held at our 650 Warren Street office on Wednesdays and Fridays at Noon.

Remember that seeking help for online sports betting addiction is a brave and important step towards recovery, and there are resources available to support you on your journey towards a healthier and happier life.

By, Winell Soures, LCSWR, SAP, Clinical Director