The Super Bowl 58 has finally arrived and with it comes the excitement of placing bets. As sports betting continues to grow in popularity, a record-breaking 26% of Americans are expected to participate in this year’s game. This meteoric rise has also contributed to an increase in gambling addiction across the nation, raising concerns among health professionals.
Billings Shooters Bar and Grill was no exception on Sunday as people like Wyatt Burns and Kevin Curley eagerly prepared for the big game. “I came here to have a beer and a shot, just to kind of loosen up before the festivities begin,” Burns said. “And I bet big,” added Curley.
While they may not be part of the growing number of individuals experiencing an addiction to gambling, their actions raise awareness about the potential dangers of compulsive behavior that can lead to addiction. According to Matt Perdue, medical director for Frontier Psychiatry in Billings, “nationwide, as to the prevalence of the number of people that we suspect have a gambling disorder is about 1% of the population,” or around 3.4 million Americans. He added that one concern is “the ease of access with mobile platforms and those platforms often incentivizing getting started placing bets.”
Perdue noted that Montana has followed this trend over the past couple years with setting records each year for revenue collected from gambling. However, data from only the past five years since sports betting was legalized in 2019 makes it difficult for experts like Perdue to monitor long-term trends related to gambling addiction. Nonetheless, he emphasizes it is an area they must continue monitoring closely.
For Burns and others like him who enjoy placing bets during special events like football games, it’s all about having some fun even if there’s no guarantee of winning every time