News Release

January 26, 2004

Contact: Kristina Goodnough, 860-679-3700

Superbowl Excitement Can Snag Problem Gamblers

Free Confidential Help Is Available through UConn Health Center Call Toll-free 877-400-0570

FARMINGTON, CONN. – The excitement surrounding the Superbowl – from over-the top television commercials to friendly office pools – can be irresistible to people with a gambling problem. They may find the hype an irresistible invitation to bet – and bet big.

Sports gamblers bet about 13 days a month and spend anywhere from $500 to over $4,000, according to a recent study by addiction researcher Nancy Petry, Ph.D., professor of psychiatry at the University of Connecticut Health Center. During Superbowl season, Petry found that the wager amounts can double or even triple and the result can be financial problems ranging from debt to bankruptcy. Sports gamblers bet problematically for more than 10 years before seeking help.

UConn Health Center is trying to change that. Early intervention and prevention strategies are being tested to assist problem gamblers earlier, before the troubles really begin to mount.

Petry has several ongoing studies for gamblers. One study is investigating brief interventions for individuals who like to gamble regularly, but who don’t have severe gambling problems. Another study examines two types of cognitive-behavioral treatment for those with more severe gambling problems. A third study provides treatment for spouses or family members of problem gamblers.

Superbowl gamblers and their loved ones may be eligible for these studies that provide participants with free, confidential, outpatient care for up to 8 weeks. For more information, or to participate, call 860-679-2177, or toll free, 877-400-0570.

Meanwhile, Petry has the following tips for people who may be worried about their gambling:

  • Don’t bet more money than you feel comfortable losing.
  • Don’t wager with borrowed money—not from your spouse, your parents, the rent money, the bank, or the credit card.
  • Don’t look to gambling as a way of making money.
  • Don’t bet on every game, or on multiple Superbowl pools.
  • Find something else to do on Superbowl evening if you suspect you have a problem with sports betting. Go to a movie or a restaurant (that doesn’t have a TV) instead.

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