Sports gambling reaches its peak on Super Bowl Sunday
In less than a month Americans will celebrate a day which has taken on more importance than many of our entrenched holidays, Super Bowl Sunday.
The Super Bowl is a day for friends and families to get together for snacks, drinks, commercials and maybe even a little football.
Even as Super Bowl Sunday has become something of a national phenomenon -- the Super Bowl typically is one of the highest rated TV events of the year -- the game itself tends to be an afterthought for many watching. More important is the betting.
Ask the casual sports fan and most would be able to name the New England Patriots as the defending champions -- the Patriots have won three of the last four Super Bowl titles -- but few would be able to name many of the losing teams in recent years.
What makes the Super Bowl so popular, besides its ability to give people yet another reason to get together and party, is the gambling side of the game. The day of the Super Bowl is the biggest single day of gambling of the year, with more than $400 million bet on the game in recent years.
"I think it's broadly appealing because of the popularity," said Nora Bock, compulsive gambling manager for the Missouri Department of Mental Health.
Friendly wagers and office pools are fixtures of the game. As the Internet has become more and more a part of the average household, betting on the Super Bowl has taken a more extensive form.
The days of simply betting on who is going to win the Super Bowl are gone. Thanks to the multitude of Internet gambling sites there are countless ways to place your bet.
A small sample list of things which can be bet on include: scoring lines for each quarter, which teams scores first, total points scored by the home and away teams, team with the longest touchdown, first team to use a coach's challenge, first team with a turnover, first team to call a time-out and first team to get a penalty just to name a few.
One site had as many as 25 pages of proposition bets to put wagers on. Another site in previous years listed as many as 700 different wagers just for the Super Bowl. For those not interested in football, bets can even be made on the popularity of the commercials.
Of course, while gambling may be just a simple form of entertainment for many people who will lay a wager on the Super Bowl, it can become a problem. Approximately one percent of adults are estimated to meet the criteria of compulsive gambling during a given year, while another two to three percent would be considered problem gamblers.
"Studies have shown with increased availability we have seen an increase in the prevalence of gambling problems," Bock said.
It is important to note sports gambling is illegal in the state of Missouri. Anyone who feels they may have a gambling problem can call 1-888-BETSOFF for help.