A record-setting 50.4 million Americans placed bets on this weekend’s Super Bowl game.
Sports betting saw a 61 percent increase for this year’s Super Bowl compared to last year, with nearly one in four U.S. adults placing a bet. The championship game saw roughly $16 billion in wagers, more than double last year’s estimates.
Sports betting has grown immensely in the past few years, with the market growing tenfold to reach a whopping $7 billion in 2022.
Five years ago, the idea of betting on live games was not on many people’s radars. But a Supreme Court ruling in 2018 changed all of that, making sports betting legal in 33 states and D.C.
But as the sports betting industry continues to grow, addiction experts are warning of a potential epidemic that could rival the opioid crisis. Experts warn that as gambling continues to increase over the next several years, sports-betting addiction will take a toll in rising rates of bankruptcy, domestic violence, depression, anxiety and suicide.
“Gambling is a very different addiction from drugs or alcohol,” said Professor Lia Nower, Director of the Center for Gambling Studies at Rutgers University. “You could be sitting with your kids, watching cartoons, and gambling away your house, your car, everything you own, on your mobile phone. How would you know?”
A poll by The Washington Post and University of Maryland found that 66 percent of Americans approved of legal sports betting in 2022, up from 55 percent in 2017.
“We have a movement toward expanding what was once considered a sin, what was once considered a vice, and embedding it at every level of American culture, down to kindergarten,” said Timothy Fong, a clinical professor of psychiatry at the Jane and Terry Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior at the University of California, Los Angeles.
Surveys show that sports bettors are predominantly male, under 45, and while some are wealthy, a Rutgers University study found that half of sports gamblers earn less than $50,000 a year.