Guide to betting responsibly on the Super Bowl

Feb 10, 2024

As Super Bowl Sunday gets closer, there is more focus than ever on the gambling side of the “Big Game” between the San Francisco 49ers and Kansas City Chiefs. According to projections by the American Gaming Association this week, approximately 67.8 million adults (26% of the adult population of the U.S.) are expected to bet approximately $23.1 billion on Super Bowl 58. The most-watched sporting event in the country is also America’s most-bet single game of the calendar year. For thousands of Americans, Sunday’s game will be their first foray into some form of sports betting, so it’s important to learn beforehand how to bet responsibly to avoid potential serious issues down the road.

Responsible Gaming tips for Super Bowl betting

Setting expectations

Before betting on the Super Bowl or any other game for the first time, it’s incredibly important to understand how much of an advantage sportsbooks have over bettors. For most standard bets like the spread or over/under, the odds or “price” is most commonly “-110,” meaning you need to risk $11 for every $10 you want to try to win. That $1 difference between what you need to risk versus win is what’s known as the “vig” (short for “vigorish”) or “juice,” which is how sportsbooks make profit in the long term. 

Given that advantage that sportsbooks have, bettors placing bets with average odds of -110 need to win at a rate of 52.38% in order to just break even. Anything above that rate would be profitable, but anything under it (more likely) means a loss. The more bets you place, the more likely you are to fall below that break-even point and lose money long term. Even the most skilled and experienced bettors in the world struggle to achieve a win rate over 52.4% consistently, which means the deck is incredibly stacked against novice bettors. Therefore, it is critical to view sports betting as a form of paid entertainment with the expectation that it will cost you money, not be a profit-making activity. 

Understanding Bankroll Management

A key to betting responsibly is understanding the concept of bankroll management. A betting bankroll can be thought of as your budget for gambling. It varies by person because determining a bankroll starts with one question: “How much can I afford to lose?” Once you’ve answered that question, you can form a good idea of what your bankroll should be. Maybe it’s $100, or possibly it’s $1,000 - it completely depends on your level of disposable income. 

The next step of understanding bankroll management is the concept of “unit” size. A unit can be thought of as how much you typically wager on each bet. Typically it is advisable for your unit size to be between 1-3% of your total bankroll, but some say it can also range up to 5% (Forbes). That means if your bankroll is $1,000 and your unit size is 3% of that, your typical 1-unit bet would be $30. It is recommended to start with a low amount to minimize risk as you get more familiar and comfortable with sports betting.

Managing your bankroll smartly is how you can minimize the risk of blowing through your entire betting budget. Every bettor goes through cold streaks at some point, so limiting your exposure on each individual bet will hopefully mean that even a sustained period of losses will not completely wipe out your bankroll. 

It’s also critical that you never chase your losses, meaning betting more than usual to try to make up for lost bets with larger wins. This strategy rarely works and is very dangerous as it can quickly result in losing your entire betting budget. Lastly, you should never bet on credit or borrow money to bet, as it can create a false perception of less risk and quickly result in significant debt.

Setting time limits 

A new feature that many online sportsbooks are starting to offer is time limits. This is something that all sports gamblers should follow. Spending more time on sports betting apps correlates to more bets being placed and likely more money being lost in the long term. It is responsible to set a time limit for yourself, for example 15 minutes a day or an hour per week, in order to make sure that sports betting remains a quick and casual form of entertainment, not an all-consuming habit.

Avoiding drugs and alcohol

One of the easiest ways to lose money quickly betting is by doing it under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Drugs and alcohol can greatly impact your decision-making and make it difficult to focus, which is why you also can’t drive a car under the influence. When it comes to sports betting, impairment from drugs or alcohol can result in larger-than-normal wagers and potentially ignoring the risks of losing large sums of money. This can result in a quick loss of your entire bankroll. 

You should also avoid betting when in an emotional state. Heightened emotions can alter your judgment, so it’s important to take the time to consider the details of your wager and only risk your standard unit size. Never bet with heightened emotions, as that is another easy way to lose money quickly. 

Avoiding peer pressure at Super Bowl parties

Watching the Super Bowl can be a fun social experience enjoyed with large groups of friends and family. However, in recent years, the increased popularity of sports betting in the United States has led to more social betting, when bettors consult one another and place the same bets together in order to have aligned rooting interests during the game. This concept can seem okay on the surface, but it can also lead to increased bet sizes, larger than your traditional “unit,” in order to keep up with the wager amounts of others. Make sure that you don’t let peer pressure impact your risk levels in social situations on Super Bowl Sunday. 

Problem Gambling - Know the Warning Signs 

Irresponsible betting habits can lead to many potential issues, including financial, mental and family problems. That’s why it’s critical to learn the warning signs of a gambling problem. One example is mismanaging money and potentially ignoring financial obligations. That can include taking money that has been set aside for family or personal reasons and using it to gamble. This can naturally cause problems within a family, as well as lead to debt. This is a strong sign of a gambling addiction that will only get worse without help.

Another warning sign can be someone keeping their betting activities a secret. If you find out that a family member or friend is lying or not sharing the full truth about their gambling, it may be because they have already lost a lot of money or have become addicted and don’t want anyone to know. Also, if someone’s mood is strongly dependent on winning or losing a bet, it could be a sign of addiction. 

Other warning signs include skipping social events to gamble or stealing items to get money to fund their betting. Be on the lookout for these types of warning signs if someone you know is gambling regularly. 

Gambling Addiction Help & Resources

Some positive news is that there is help for those struggling with or know someone who’s having problems with gambling. Birches Health offers highly effective gambling addiction treatment, usually through confidential meetings with specialists. The care offered is convenient and can fit your schedule. Birches offers 24/7 assistance from a dedicated care team and tailors the help to each individual. It’s never too late to help someone who may be dealing with gambling addiction, and Birches Health is there to help along every step of the way. 

If you believe you or someone you know may be struggling with gambling addiction, call (833) 483-3838 or email hello@bircheshealth.com.

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