Sports gambling addictions on the rise due to online betting, experts warn

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Thursday, February 8, 2024
Sports gambling addictions on the rise, experts warn
Sports gambling addictions are on the rise due to an increase in online betting platforms, therapists and experts warned ahead of Super Bowl LVIII.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Experts are warning about the rise of sports gambling addictions ahead of this year's Super Bowl.

Brian Meister once gambled and lost a year's salary in one night of sports betting. He is a recovering sports gambling addict who now shares his story in the hopes of helping others avoid a similar fate.

"It wasn't about winning or losing," Meister said. "It was about the action."

Meister's gambling career was before the onset of casino sports books and 24-hour-a-day internet sports gambling options.

Therapists said the opportunities for sports betting these days have led to a huge increase in gambling addictions.

"We've seen a big increase in people reaching out for help with sports betting," Nicasa certified gambling counselor Elizabeth Thielen said. "Now we're upwards of 40% of our practice is sports bettors."

The American Gaming Association estimates Americans gambled about $16 billion on the Super Bowl last year. They predict this year's number will be $23 billion, a 35% increase, and much of it will come from online betting sites.

The Illinois Council on Problem Gambling has a campaign aimed at problem sports gamblers, letting them know help is available.

"We want to make sure whatever amount you're spending, you can spend," said Anita Pindiur with Way Back Inn. This is just for entertainment."

Meister learned the hard way after a relapse.

"I spent four days in a hotel room, deciding whether to kill myself or find more money to gamble," Meister said.

If you are experiencing suicidal thoughts, help is available 24/7 by calling 988.

Meister said he chose neither option. He got help, and he now speaks out hoping to encourage others to do the same.

If you are in need of help with a gambling addiction, help is available by calling 1-800-662-4357 or clicking here.