What is Sports Betting and Event Wagering?

Apr 21, 2023

Basketball arena where spectators are gathering to watch a National Basketball Assocation (NBA) game and may be betting on sports and wagering on events and the outcome of the game

What is Sports Betting?

Sports betting is a form of gambling where players are able to wager on sporting events (this is also known as event wagering). The most common sports betting is on widely-watched sports and athletic events: this includes baseball, basketball, football, boxing, horse-racing, hockey, college basketball like March Madness, and tennis.  Sports betting and event wagering also expands outside traditional forms of sports though, and can include wagering on events unrelated to athletics including: political contests (Presidential and governmental elections), award shows (the Oscars), and even TV shows (who might win the Bachelor this season!).

Sports betting was initially legalized in the US in a selection of states in 2018 and though many states have yet to implement legal sports betting vendors, there are many opportunities for sports bettors to place wagers. These include legal forms of betting: through a brick and mortar or online betting platform (often referred to a betting agency, bookmaker, or sportsbook), or illegally through an off-shore bookmaker. These vendors offer differing odds on the event wagers that may occur. Common outcomes bettors wager on entail:

  • Moneyline bets (also known as fixed odds or American odds): betting on the selected individual or team to win the contest

  • Over-under bets: betting on the total score of both sides in the match

  • Spread betting: betting on the accuracy of the bettor’s prediction (as opposed to moneyline bets that are normally a binary win-loss prediction)

  • Proposition bets (also known as prop bets): betting on a specific aspect of the game. This can often include how many points an individual scores, who scores first, or even what color of Gatorade a player consumes first.

  • Parlay bets: betting on a collection of wagers that give a larger financial win if all wagers are predicted correctly

Sports betting began in brick and mortar locations, but has since transitioned to increasingly online venues. Now, as well as traditional sports (basketball, football, baseball, etc.), bettors can bet on online board games, video games (also known as esports or egaming). As sports betting has moved increasingly online, so too have gamblers - and the rise of online sports betting has increased the risk of gambling addiction.

Potential Signs and Symptoms of Sports Betting and Problem Gambling Addiction: What To Look For in Yourself and Others

Many individuals who regularly place sports bets and event wagers may do so without realizing the extent of their financial actions. Though many Americans participate in recreational sports betting, for others, this may lead to behavior. Below are some common signs, symptoms, and actions to look for to better understand if your sports betting is increasing to dangerous levels in yourself and others:

  • Wagering more money than one is comfortable losing

  • Feeling the need to bet larger and larger amounts to experience the same emotion

  • Refusing to acknowledge the potential of losing

  • Constantly thinking about sports betting, the next opportunity to sports bet, and plotting how to place another bet

  • Feeling anxious, depressed, and restless when not able to place a sports bet or wager on an event

  • Avoiding engaging with others who want to discuss your sports betting

  • Betting as escapism: to escape problems, feelings of stress and anxiety, or to feel relief from stress, anxiety, depression

  • Losing money, and then immediately betting more to attempt to recover lost money (and losing ongoing bets)

  • Becoming a recluse and distant from friends, family, partners, relatives, or work colleagues

  • Committing crimes (theft, fraud) or lying to cover up your problem

  • Asking others for financial assistance or to help getting out of or paying down a debt

Though often sports bettors who are struggling can feel like they are alone, there are opportunities to get help. If an individual you know is displaying any combination of the above signs, there is an opportunity to seek professional help by reaching out to Birches Health today to speak to a problem gambling specialist or take our gambling quiz to better identify and understand your behaviors.

Sports Betting and Problem Gambling Statistics

Many Americans bet on sports. In fact, sports betting is the fastest growing US consumer market with a 40% CAGR from 2023 2033 (Source). Here are some further statistics on sports betting:

  • In 2022, total sports betting revenue exceeded $7.5 billion (Source)

  • The age group with the largest percentage (%) of sports bettors is thirty and forty year olds (from 30 - 44 years of age). 22% of this group stated they participated in event wagering (Source)

  • 20% of American males said they place wagers (vs. only 7% of females) (Source)

  • 45% of Americans have placed a wager on a sporting outcome at least once in their lives (Source)

  • Why do Americans place wagers on sports or engage in sports betting? 45% said they found it made the games and outcomes more interesting, 33% enjoyed it as a social activity and a way to compete with friends and families, and 29% thought it added excitement and a specific thrill to the games (Source)

  • While only 24% of online gambling happens in casino affiliated platforms and gaming, 45% of online gambling comes from sports betting (Source)

  • Many US sports leagues are popular to bet on: the sports with significant betting interest are entail National Football League (NFL) (61%), National Basketball Association (NBA) (58%), Major League Baseball (MLB) (53%), Boxing (42%), Horse Racing (35%), National Hockey League (32%), National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing (NASCAR) (28%), Esports (23%), Major League Soccer (MLS) (21%), Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) (16%) (Source)

How Birches Health is Able to Work with Sports Bettors to Avoid, Prevent, and Treat Problem Gambling (also known as Gambling Addiction, Gambling Disorder, or Compulsive Gambling)

Sports Betting and Gambling Addiction can ruin lives and quickly have disastrous consequences. It can destroy family and friend relationships as well as cause individuals to go into debt and worse. 

As a leading, mission-driven provider of accessible and affordable virtual care, Birches Health ensures sports bettors are able to get the care they need from licensed clinicians. Our providers confidentially evaluate patients, offer personalized treatment plans, and work with you to make sure treatment fits into your day to day.

Learn more about how to stop sports betting and begin your financial recovery.

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