By: Mo Berlin  | 

The Risks of Sports Betting in America

In recent years, the landscape of sports betting in the United States has undergone a significant change. With 38 states having now legalized sports gambling, placing bets has never been easier. Six years ago, one would need to travel to Las Vegas to place a sports bet. Nowadays, such a rigorous task can be achieved from the comfort of one's home. Apps like FanDuel, Draft Kings and Bet MGM have revolutionized the industry, allowing gamblers to wager on any details within a game, from outcomes to individual player performances. This is something that can be done at any time of day, making it simple and easy to place a bet spontaneously.

The accessibility of mobile sports gambling has reached such a dangerous point that you can be sitting at the dinner table, gambling your life away on meaningless sporting events, and no one at that same table will have any clue that you're doing it. What started as a hassle to bet on sports has become an overlooked and dangerously accessible activity to anyone willing to participate.

Dr. Timothy Fong, a professor of psychiatry at UCLA and co-director of the university's Gambling Studies Program, explains the quick addiction that even the average person can fall into. “Winning triggers a pleasurable response in the brain, a reward that's hard-wired into our DNA. Yet, the pursuit of this feeling can lead to catastrophic outcomes, including bankruptcy, divorce, and even suicide.” According to the National Association of Addiction Professionals, gambling has the highest rate of suicide among all other addictions, at a staggering 20%.

The convenience of mobile betting has led to a surge in gambling addiction, as evidenced by a 91% increase in calls to a gambling helpline in 2022, the first full year when mobile sports betting was legalized in most states.

The magnitude of sports betting is shown by the staggering 68 million Americans who wagered on this year's Super Bowl. This was a 35% increase in betting participation from the previous year. This year, an estimated $23.1 billion was bet on the Super Bowl, a significant leap from last year's $16 billion.

An alarming trend is the addiction to sports gambling among young adults — people like every one of us studying at YU. A 2023 report from Rutgers University revealed that a third of bettors aged 18 to 24 gambled exclusively online. The report also highlighted that younger men, those aged from 18 to 44, are most susceptible to high-risk problems gambling, with 20% being in the 18 to 24 age group.

According to, the risk is heightened among sports gamblers aged 18 to 20. Younger people are more prone to chase losses and bet beyond their means, a significant concern when talking about addiction and the pursuit of always wanting more. The implications are severe, with potential impacts on mental health, including increases in depression, anxiety, and suicidality.

As sports betting continues to grow, so does the urgency for awareness and intervention to prevent the potential of gambling addictions. The story of sports gambling in America is a tale of technology's double-edged sword. While it provides unprecedented access and convenience, it also poses a significant risk that demands attention and action.


Photo Caption: Sports betting revenue generated nearly $11 Billion in 2023 alone.

Photo Credit: Dough4872 / Wikimedia Commons