Sunday’s Super Bowl matchup between the Kansas City Chiefs and the Philadelphia Eagles is expected to draw a television audience of well over 100 million viewers in the United States – and upwards of 50 million gamblers betting a combined $16 billion.
It’s almost impossible to miss advertisements for sports wagering these days. It’s everywhere – and the marketing blitz is working. Gambling on this year’s big game is expected to be up 66% over last year, which also set a record.
The late playwright William Mizner once said gambling was “The sure way of getting nothing for something.” Albert Einstein said, “You cannot beat a roulette table unless you steal money from it.”
Casinos and sport books lure curious or even desperate people with seemingly low risk offers and “credits” that seem almost too good to be true. “Bet $1 & Get $200 in credits.”
How could you possibly lose?
To quote William Shakespeare, “Let me count the ways.”
It’s easier than ever to place a wager these days. With sports betting legal in 36 states, as well as the District of Columbia, not to mention online, gambling is no longer relegated to Las Vegas, Atlantic City or a shady bookie in a bar. Celebrity endorsements have further normalized the activity.
Marketers have also widened the pool by trying to make sports betting entertaining. When it comes to the Super Bowl, it’s no longer just a matter of a point spread or the total number of points scored in a game. “Proposition bets” have been growing exponentially in recent years. These are “exotic” types of wagers that would be downright silly if they weren’t so sad.
For example, you can bet not only how long the National Anthem will be – but whether the singer will omit a word. You can also get odds on what team or player will score first, whether the first turnover will be an interception or a fumble, whether there will be a safety or whether one team will score three straight times. You can even bet on what the combined jersey numbers of all the touchdown scorers will be.
Some Christians may argue that the Bible doesn’t specifically address gambling or call it a sin. But it does warn about the love of money and our problem with greed.
“Whoever is greedy for unjust gain troubles his own household,” we read in Proverbs (15:27). The writer of Hebrews urges, “Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have” (13:5).
Keep in mind that in order for a gambler to win, somebody else has to lose. Some might claim it’s a victimless hobby, but in addition to receiving the losses of someone else, you’re putting yourself at an elevated risk for other addictions, too.
According to recent statistics, 50% of those who get addicted to gambling resort to some form of crime. And problem gambling is known to increase a wide range of mental health problems, including depression, anxiety, and anti-social personality disorders.
The very best bet football fans can make for Sunday’s game would be to gather your family and friends to watch the big contest together. Fire up the grill, make a pot of chili, rate the commercials, and laugh and fellowship together thru it all. If you do that, unlike the gamblers, you can’t lose.
Photo from Shutterstock.