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Celebrating the ‘Big Game’? Play it Safe (1/30/17)

Celebrating the ‘Big Game’? Play it Safe (1/30/17)

Author: Polly Carver-Kimm/Monday, January 30, 2017/Categories: IDPH News, Behavioral Health

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The ‘big game’ (on February 5, 2017) is the single most watched sporting event in the U.S. It’s a great time to get together with family and friends to enjoy all of those football themed snacks, not to mention the amazing commercials. But for some, the partying and gambling can get out of control. According to the Nevada Gaming Control Board, $132.5 million was legally wagered on the game last year and the American Gaming Association estimates Americans bet $4.2 billion on the game in illegal wagers. The Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) reminds Iowans to enjoy the event, but be mindful of the temptations it presents to those who battle problem gambling.

The opportunities to bet on the game are numerous – at office and home parties, online sports betting sites, and mobile betting sites as close as your smart phone. There are also endless wagering possibilities, from whether the coin toss will be heads or tails to the number of points per quarter, and so on. “For most people, it’s just a game and they can bet on it safely and responsibly,” said Eric Preuss of the IDPH Gambling Treatment Program. “Wagering on this game should be for entertainment only. For those who gamble more frequently, this particular game could be considered a chance to make up for past losses – part of the unhealthy belief of being ‘one bet away’ from winning all your money back.”

If you are planning big game activities, be aware that some people in your family, community or workplace could be struggling with problem gambling. Here are some suggestions to make it fun for everyone:

  • Don’t pressure anyone to participate in football pools or gambling activities.
  • Have information about problem gambling and resources for help available.
  • Be creative – think of ways to enjoy the game without having to gamble.
  • If you do include gambling, suggest low limits for the amount of bets.

If you or someone you know is struggling with gambling, call the statewide helpline at 1-800-BETS OFF or visit www.1800betsoff.org for information on problem gambling and referral services. 

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