“What Color Gatorade will they pour on the coach’s head?” “How many beats will Ariana Grande hold the word ‘Brave’ for during the National Anthem?”
While these questions may seem random and inconsequential to most folks, to others, they are more important than what’s for dinner. That’s because these questions represent the kind of minutia that can be wagered on in the underground proposition sports betting market online, which admittedly, seems kind of fun in a “once a year at a super bowl party” kind of way.
But, for people who battle with gambling addiction, proposition betting can turn into a never ending black hole that can be very difficult to climb out of. Unlike regulated sports betting, which is contained to the direct outcome of a certain game or race, there is no limit to how many wagers can be conjured in relationship to a particular event. The imagination is the limit, which means greater potential for someone struggling with addiction to go off the rails and make eight times the number of wagers they normally would when being limited to wagers on a game’s outcome.
A Texas resident by the name of “Hugh” recently spoke to reporters about how his compulsive gambling, stating that it was fueled by proposition bets he was making at offshore unregulated online casinos and sportsbooks.
“It’s almost like it’s the next tier. It’s just the next thing,” said Hugh. “It just takes over so much of my life. When I was in the midst of my gambling addiction, it wasn’t all the lost money. It was the lost time and how much gambling took away from my job.”
With unfettered access to an unending stream of moment specific wagers, addictive patterns are easy to slip into. So how can the online gambling industry address these very real concerns? Many would suggest that the first step would be comprehensive and robust regulation that keeps the player’s well being in mind. Whether this be providing streamlined access to gambling addiction services (such as the UK Gambling Commission does with GamCare.org.uk), self-exclusion, wager limits, or limitations on what kind of wagers can be made, it is clearly apparent there is more the industry can do when operating in the light of day, as opposed to players being preyed upon by companies with no qualms with operating under a cloak of darkness.
Investing tax dollars into expansive mental health support could even be a benefit to a society that would have the capability to reach far beyond those affected by gambling addiction. Gambling is not even close to being the only symptom arising from a deep unbalance in our societies psychological state. Whether it be drugs, alcohol, sex, social media, food, or money, people are subconsciously expressing a need for something they are compulsively trying to find satisfaction via material means.
Our man “Hugh” shared with reporters why he thinks it took him so long to seek help with his addiction, which is likely a common behavior for others: “No one wants to admit that they’re completely powerless, that they’re out of control, that they’re completely insane.” Describing what finally worked for him, “The only way to deal or stop compulsive gambling is to deal with your own emotions.”
What if acutely regulated and taxed online gambling actually invested in a more expansive and robust mental health system in our country? As opposed to funneling money into the pockets of offshore unregulated unscrupulous businesses, what if billions of dollars were being funneled into helping people better understand their own impulses, desires, and ability to care for themselves on a psychological level, thereby also investing in a more healthy, fulfilled society?
These are interesting questions to ask, given the pervasiveness of the internet in our modern society, and the rampant presence of addiction in our culture that seems to be desperately seeking for meaning in all the wrong places.