Christian Action League
November 22, 2022
“The safe way to double your money is to fold it over once and put it in your pocket,” warned the late Kin Hubbard, a humorist who understood the serious nature of gambling. For those who need more evidence of the slippery slope that starts with a “harmless” wager, studies continue to reveal the addictive effects of gambling and the complex relationship between psychopathy and gambling problems.
Late last month, a study published by the Journal of the American Medical Association showed that individuals who wager on sports may be at higher risk of gambling-related problems. The study involved surveys in which participants reported their engagement with four categories of sports wagering over the prior year and also completed the Problem Gambling Severity Index.
Researchers concluded that being male, younger, of higher income, and residing in a state where sports wagering is legal were among a list of factors that increased the likelihood of sports gambling. With regard to problem gambling, they found engagement in general sports betting, daily fantasy play, and e-sports wagering were each linked with participants being categorized as a moderate-risk or high-risk gambler.
“We want to be careful assessing what it means to suddenly have many more people betting on sports,” clinical psychologist Shane Kraus of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, a co-author of the study, told the media. In 2018, The Supreme Court overturned the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act, which had made sports betting on the professional and collegiate levels illegal outside of Nevada. Over the next four years, sports betting became legal in 31 states. A bill that would have greatly expanded sports betting in North Carolina was narrowly defeated during the last legislative session.
Keith Whyte, executive director of the National Council on Problem Gambling, says his organization’s surveys show young, high-income men with college educations are at particular risk of problem sports gambling and are about twice as likely as high school graduates to bet on sports.
Concern over the propensity for sports bettors to become problem gamblers is growing, especially as sports gambling ads saturate the media. In fact, football viewers see six ads promoting sports betting for every one “Responsible Play” ad reminding them it’s wise to set limits on their bets.
“From a public health perspective, we are really concerned about all these gambling ads,” Jeffrey Derevensky, director of the International Centre for Youth Gambling Problems and High-Risk Behaviours at Canada’s McGill University, told Grid News. Already, it is estimated that 47 million Americans will place at least one bet on the NFL this season.
In other gambling related news, a study published in the SAGE Journal Psychological Reports examined the relationship between psychopathy and gambling. That study showed that people who are prone to lying, cheating and callous behavior were more likely to have gambling-related problems and less likely to use strategies to limit those problems.
Researchers who authored the study used a 2017 online survey of university students who reported engaging in gambling.
They found that “proneness to rash, impulsive decisions, decisions that the person did not think through, strongly predicted gambling problems.”
“This is not surprising as we know that the very nature of gambling is that it feeds on these kinds of impulsive actions,” said the Rev. Mark Creech, executive director of the Christian Action League. “Whether in the casino with flashing lights and chaotic noise or simply on the phone with urgent messages and graphics popping up, the entire industry is based on getting people to bet without thinking, as well as getting them hooked. If alcohol is involved and it often is, the risk is seriously exacerbated.”
When the bill that would have legalized sports gambling in North Carolina came before a North Carolina Senate Committee during the last session of the NCGA, the bill’s champion said the measure was about freedom.
Rev. Creech replied in his testimony before the committee:
“Whose freedom are we actually talking about? Is this only about the gambler’s liberty to gamble. If it is, then we should also take into account that the gambling industry – the most predatory industry in the country – purposely targets, exploits, and cultivates addiction for profits. Ask compulsive gamblers if they feel free? And what about those of us who don’t gamble, but still have to share in the high social costs that come with legalized betting? Gambling operators don’t pay for the harms they cause families, businesses, and communities. Taxpayers do. So, what about the freedom of those of us who choose not to gamble, but are saddled with sharing in its social costs whether we like it or not. What’s free about that?
“Legalizing a vice like sports gambling doesn’t work for the liberty of all of us, just the gamers who make suckers of the most of us with our government’s permission and cooperation…
“When governments allow the peddling of vice – something that significantly impacts people’s behavioral patterns, making them a detriment to themselves and the innocents around them, they enable the gambling industry to advance one of the most common forms of modern slavery.”