Problem Gambling Awareness: Myths & Realities About Problem Gambling

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Picture Alliance/Getty. Pictured: Roulette wheel.

March is Problem Gambling Awareness Month, and the concept of problem gambling is often treated in a very straightforward way, but the reality of problem gambling is that it is very much not straightforward.

While oftentimes educators want to offer a description or solution – or sequence to a solution – for problem gamblers, that often provides a misrepresentative picture to those looking for answers on the topic.

Let's get into a few myths about problem gambling and what the reality is surrounding them.

Myth: If you are a problem gambler, you are always a problem gambler

There is a popular notion that problem gamblers are consistently in the same state of mind or dealing with the same issues at all times. That is not the case for all problem gamblers.

Reality: You can maintain certain problem gambling habits at different times

Problem gamblers can go through certain problematic habits in periods. At times, individuals can be wagering in a responsible way, and at times they can be engaging in problematic gambling behaviors. While it may be easy to think that those dealing with problem gambling habits can follow a linear trend with the issue, that is not the case.

For many problem gamblers, swings are persistent. Not just with the gambling itself, but with the behaviors that come with them. At times there may be a more healthy relationship with gambling, and at times there may be an extremely negative one.

Myth: If you consistently bet parlays you are a problem gambler

A lot of more experienced bettors will frequently tell people that if you are betting parlays, you are doing sports betting wrong. Going even further, they may tell the public that if you are betting parlays, you may have a problem. But this a misconception that misrepresents the possible problem with parlays.

Reality: Parlays are useful for certain bettors

For many recreational bettors – as in 99% of the bettors that make up the sports betting landscape in America – parlays are a way for bettors to risk very little to win a lot. Risking very little is the key to this, and it typifies the concept that you should be betting for entertainment and for fun.

For many more experienced bettors, the mathematical disadvantage of parlays is unappealing, and understandably so, but for those looking to have fun while watching a certain game, there is absolutely nothing wrong with placing a small parlay wager.

Myth: Gambling harm only happens to problem gamblers

As an industry, everyone in and around sports betting would like to believe that if you do not have problem gambling habits, you will not deal with the harm that comes with gambling. It would be great if that was the case, but it's far from it.

Reality: All gamblers deal with the mental toll of gambling

Whether you are an infrequent bettor, only wagering on the Super Bowl, or if you wager on the NBA every evening, it takes extreme discipline to avoid the impact of the emotional swings in sports gambling, or gambling in general.

Sports are emotional, and the rollercoaster that is each and every game can impact all bettors. Particularly when you have a financial interest in a certain outcome, it is easy to be mentally impacted by the contest.

Understanding this fact is key to being a better gambler and being more realistic about gambling.

For more educational and responsible gaming content, please check out our responsible gambling hub here.

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