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The Far-Reaching Effects of Sports Gambling in Tennessee

By MTN Reporter: TJ Warner

The rising popularity of sports gambling has created a fun pastime for many sports fans. For others, however, sports gambling can quickly spiral into a life-destroying addiction.  


Sports gambling is legal in Tennessee and 37 other states. According to The American Gaming Association, an estimated 68 million Americans placed roughly 23 billion dollars worth of bets on the Super Bowl.  


James Whelan, a professor in the Department of psychology at the University of Memphis, is the Executive Director of the Tennessee Institute for Gambling Education and Research. He says that in the state of Tennessee alone around 100,000 adults have had a gambling addiction. For every person with a gambling addiction, another six people are adversely affected.  


It all starts with that winning bet.  


 “Place a five-dollar bet on a game, you win, it makes it more likely you are gonna do it again because you think ‘Oh, I won. I was right. I was smart and it made that game more fun.”   


“Ben” is a part of a group of friends that participate in sports gambling. He realized he had an addiction when he felt his gambling habits in his bank account.  


“As we got more hooked we started throwing more money into it and it became noticeable,” Ben said.  


He and his friends also noticed another tell-tale sign of addiction: they were betting on more and more obscure sports.  


“I found myself betting on international cricket leagues that I know absolutely nothing about,” Ben said.  


Ben and his friends say they now have their gambling under control, but Whelan says many gamblers are not so lucky. Only two out of every ten with a serious addiction will seek help.  


Tennessee has resources available to those who suffer from a gambling addiction.  



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