Super Bowl 58 has arrived, and all bets are on. With the rise in popularity of sports betting, a record-breaking 26% of Americans are expected to bet on the big game. This meteoric rise has contributed to a surge in gambling addiction across the nation, causing concern among some health professionals.
In Billings, Shooters Bar and Grill was buzzing with excitement as folks like Wyatt Burns and Kevin Curley prepared for the Super Bowl. “Came to have a beer and a shot, just to kind of loosen up before the festivities begin,” said Burns on Sunday.
You can bet these 49ers fans aren’t just watching the game for the football. “Makes the game more enjoyable to watch when you got a little money on the line,” Burns said. “I bet big” added Curley.
Luckily, the pair isn’t part of that growing number of people experiencing an addiction to gambling. “Nationwide, as to the prevalence of the number of people that we suspect have a gambling disorder, is about 1% of the population,” said Matt Perdue, medical director for Frontier Psychiatry in Billings. Perdue explained that this is around 3.4 million Americans. “One of the areas of concern is the ease of access with mobile platforms and those platforms often incentivizing getting started placing bets,” added Perdue.
Just like with alcohol or nicotine, addiction begins with compulsive changes to the brain, and Montanans aren’t immune either. “Montana’s really followed this nationwide trend over the past couple of years with setting records each and every year for revenue collected from gambling,” Perdue said.” Worrisome as Perdue and other experts can only glean data from past five years since sports betting was legalized in 2019.” But it’s an area they will continue monitoring closely to see how things unfold.”