How to keep your mind and money safe when betting on Super Bowl Sunday

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — It is Super Bowl weekend and fans here at home and across the U.S. are expected to spend a record-setting amount placing bets on the outcome of this year’s game.

The American Gaming Association estimates that 68 million adults in the U.S. will bet on this year’s Super Bowl. That’s up more than 35% from last year. 

However, a statistic that has also gone up — by 26% — is problem gambling-related calls to the Office of Addiction Services in New York.

“We know that with the algorithms now, things are fed to you. So, once you make that first bet, you’re going to get that invitation to up your ante or to do a prop bet or whatever it might be 15, 20, 30 minutes later,” said Helen Drew, professor of practice in sports law at the University at Buffalo.

“Whenever you make something that easy to access, you know it’s going to lead to problems for some people,” added Problem Gambling Resource Center program manager Shanley Olszowy.

According to the American Gaming Association bettors are planning to wager more than $23 billion on this year’s big game. That is up from $16 billion last year.

Western New York connections to Super Bowl LVIII

To put that amount in perspective, the state comptroller’s office says New York gaming revenues totaled nearly $5 billion in all of 2023. So why is the volume of betters Sunday so much higher?

“There’s a whole new demographic involved you’re seeing with what’s called prop bets. So, the bets that don’t actually have anything to do with the game themselves,” Olszowy said.

“So, for all the Swifties out there, is Taylor Swift going to be there? Is she not going to be there? Is she going to wear red, is she wearing yellow? So, it opens it up to this whole new demographic of people that might not necessarily have cared before. So between the two, Buffalo being such a sports city and the Taylor Swift phenomenon, it’s a whole new group of people and I know the numbers are going to spike,” Olszowy said.

The state estimates that about 4% of New York’s bettors are at risk of becoming addicted, however the state government currently spends $9.6 million a year to help problem gamblers. The resource center plays a big part if you or a love one need help.

“If your cell phone battery dies and you can’t get on to DraftKings and you’re feeling really anxious about it. That counts. It doesn’t have to be financial problems, rock bottom. It doesn’t need to wait that long. You can call us whenever,” Olszowy said.

Another problem bettors must be wary of is theft of personal and credit card information due to computer viruses, scam websites and hackers.

“The scammers are going to go where the money is and when you’re talking billions of dollars in revenue and gambling, they’re going to go after the gamblers, they’re going to go after the bettors,” said VP of threat intelligence at Trend Micro Inc. Jon Clay.

“If you are going to bet on the game tomorrow, if you haven’t already made your bets, I would recommend that you look for the legitimate betting sites that are out there versus trying to go to something that you get via an email message or a text message or something that pops up on your on your browser as you’re browsing sites with an ad. So do your due diligence and you can stay safe,” Clay said.

For more information on how you can stay safe from scams and other threats, CLICK HERE.

For gambling problem help you can reach out to the Office of Addiction Services and Supports.     

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Dillon Morello is a reporter from Pittsburgh who has been part of the News 4 team since September of 2023. See more of his work here and follow him on Twitter.

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