Super Bowl Weekend Is Also Big for Gamblers

The Super Bowl on Sunday means one of the most active weekends of the year when it comes to sports gambling. It's also a potentially bad weekend for compulsive gamblers here in Houston who can't control how much they wager.

"Frank" is a recovering gambling addict who answers the phone at Houston's Gamblers Anonymous crisis line. He says before he quit gambling 30 years ago, it was hard to avoid someone making some sort of bet before the game.

"They'd go to a Super Bowl party and people are making side bets there in the office. They have a sports pool at the office. The guys at the golf course have a bet and of course there are online opportunities and bookies, so yes, it's very difficult and quite frankly, it used to be the most difficult weekend for me when I was active in this back in the 70's and prior to that."

It's estimated around $8 billion changes hands over the next few days, mostly illegal bets and sometimes wagers that end up ruining a person's life.

"Three to five percent of the population is considered compulsive, sick gamblers and it's certainly not accepted for them and there's a destructive group of people that frequently fly under the radar that people don't see until they actually blow up a business or blow up a family or blow themselves up due to their over-gambling and taking too much risk and causing
a financial disaster."

"Frank" says there are some pretty basic ways for gamblers to avoid temptation this weekend.

"Not watching the game is the first step and if you can go to a Gambler's Anonymous meeting if you think you have a gambler's problem, then that's what you should do."

He says most people who wager this weekend don't have a gambling problem, but if they do the Gamblers Anonymous Hotline number is 1-800-GAMBLER.