The tagline makes the solution sound so simple: “Gamble responsibly.”
It’s anything but for those who struggle with compulsive gambling. Instead, the footnote caps a powerful new temptation as ads for sports betting emerge in states that have recently legalized an activity once banned in most of the United States.
Sharon, a 39-year-old homemaker, decided with her husband to move from New Jersey to New York specifically to get away from legalized sports betting, but still sees ads frequently that remind her of the tens of thousands of dollars in debt she racked up on a wagering app.
Charlie, an information technology professional from suburban Philadelphia, says the advertisements and easy access makes wagering “tempting as hell,” even as his losses mounted to $400,000 as he bet online while traveling on service calls.
They’ve complicated addiction recovery for Gary, a real estate agent from New Jersey who attends support group meetings and has lost nearly $2 million over a lifetime of gambling.
“It seems like every fourth commercial, there’s one telling you how easy it is to bet on sports and make money,” said Gary, who like other gamblers spoke to The Associated Press on condition that his full name not be used because of stigmas some people associate with unhealthy gambling.