SIOUX CITY, Iowa (KCAU) — The Super Bowl is among the most-watched and gambled-on games of the year, but it can be triggering for those who may be struggling with gambling addiction.  

According to a release from the American Gaming Association, 31.4 million Americans will bet on the Super Bowl. Research by the American Gaming association indicated that those Americans plan to bet a combined $7.61 billion on the matchup.  

Behavioral Therapist for Rosecrance Jackson Centers in Sioux City Andrew Gerodias said there is a high probability that the increase in accessibility to sports betting is triggering to many people during the Super Bowl.  

“March Madness is right around the corner, and it can be just as bad in this area,” said Gerodias, “This year is going to be tough because this is one of the first full years that we have the, you know, the sports betting.” 

According to Matt Walz, a representative for Keystone Treatment Center in South Dakota, many people who gamble do not have a problem with their gambling but those who seek treatment for their gambling are in a quarter of a million dollars in debt on average.  

“The good news is that for people with gambling problems, or drug and alcohol types of problems, there is treatment available. There is help available and, as far as Keystone Treatment Center, we believe in the power of recovery and the power of redemption,” Walz said.

Walz said that addiction to gambling such as sports betting can be a real problem and that data shows gambling addicts have the highest rate of suicide out of any addiction.  

“When we expand gambling, right, or when we expand things that for some could entertaining, for others can be problematic,” said Walz, “sports betting, and especially big sporting events, can be triggers.” 

The release from the American Gaming Association indicated that 106 million Americans have remembered seeing advertisements for ‘responsible gaming’ in 2021, which is an increase of 32 million people (about twice the population of New York) in 2020.  

“The thing is that, with the opening of sports betting, especially through apps and online, it goes and makes it so that gambling is much more accessible to individuals at any point in time,” said Gerodias, “And it also ends up mixing both the aspects of the enjoyability of watching some sport that somebody already enjoys and the possibility of being able to win amounts of money.” 

Gerodias indicated that the substantial amounts of money that could be considered a quick win become very tempting. It creates a high and a sense of anticipation which will either end in a payout that reinforces the habit, or it ends in a loss that an individual may turn to try and find a way to win that loss back.  

“And that’s where things start to get complicated,” he said, “Gambling is not always a problem for everyone, it’s just in certain situations where it can get out of hand.”   

Walz said that he encourages people who think they may have a gambling problem to reach out for help. He indicated there are multiple resources available such as counseling or gambling anonymous.  

“We’ve been doing gambling treatment for decades, and we see miracles every day,” said Walz, “We help them to heal and find other coping mechanisms, and to find joy in life without gambling.”  

Gerodias said Rosecrance Jackson Centers are providing services to Crawford County, Shelby, Monona, Plymouth, Cherokee, and Woodbury by a therapist who offers outreach. He added that Services are being offered for O’Brien County, Clay, Lyon, Sue, Emmet, Palo Alto, Buena Vista, and Dickinson County, as well, and they operate on an as-needed basis.  

Gerodias said there are a few things people can do to help themselves cope during the Super Bowl weekend, which include deleting apps that can be used for sports betting and deleting any shortcuts to betting websites.  

He said deleting apps that might pique interest in gambling on sports, such as ESPN, is another one of the many things people can do to help cope with the temptation to gamble.  

Gerodias added that having accountability with others may help to prevent spending too much or at all.  

“With any addiction, we lose track of what we used to enjoy,” Gerodias said, “Just because it was enjoyable and without the addictive concept, we start to feel like things aren’t as fun.”  

Gerodias said anyone who is trying to provide support for those that may be struggling can do their part by checking in on loved ones during the Super Bowl and next month during March Madness. He indicated that setting consequences for each other may be more effective than resorting to threats that often are not followed through, or ultimatums that can become as threatening.

“It’s just important to, sort of, work as a team,” he said.  

Gerodias discussed some things that may be important to remember if one decides to participate in sports betting during the Super Bowl or March Madness, including being responsible while betting. He said moderation is important.  

“I think the big thing to keep in mind is, there is always risk that is involved with betting,” said Gerodias, “and that is usually how many of these apps will get you started. They’ll try to remove the risk so you can have a taste of it, feel that anticipation and then hopefully get that win and it’ll make you continue to come back.”  

Gerodias finished by saying that it is important to remember that there is always help available.