Has gambling gotten out of hand? You bet

Has gambling gotten out of hand? You bet

Has gambling gotten out of hand? You bet

Many activities surround this weekend's Super Bowl, but a spokesman for an organization that believes people are worth more than money says one is increasingly harmful.

Les Bernal of Stop Predatory Gambling tells AFN the Super Bowl generates more gambling than any other major sports event. Leading up to this weekend's game, various outlets have already been running ads nationally to encourage betting. He says it has gotten out of hand.

"It's far beyond having a Super Bowl office pool; now they want you essentially constantly wagering throughout the game," he relays. "These gambling companies are targeting America's young people. They're unleashing an epidemic of gambling addiction across this country."

Bernal, Les (Stop Predatory Gambling) Bernal

Though the legal age for gambling ranges from 18 to 21 depending on the state, the National Council on Problem Gambling -- a nonprofit group that advocates for helping problem gamblers but is neutral on legalized gambling -- reports that upwards of 80% of high school students have gambled for money, and as many as 6% consider themselves addicted.

The group says the pandemic and easy access to online gambling heightened the risks for young adults, and the percentage of high school students with a gambling problem is double that of adults.

"Kids today are growing up, and instead of rooting for their favorite athletes or their favorite teams, now these gambling companies -- in partnership with state officials from both political parties -- have normalized commercialized gambling," Bernal laments. "You're not a fan anymore of sports unless you're gambling on the games."

Some states have made moves to tackle the problem, but Bernal says parents can do their part to set an example by not gambling. He also encourages them to ensure that their children are educated on the subject.

"It's something that needs immediate attention both by Congress and state legislatures,
 he adds. "The only way that's going to … happen is people … need to be in their face and demanding reform on this."

Since the U.S. Supreme Court cleared the way to legal sports betting in 2018, states have raced to open the taps of tax revenue from the practice. 30 states and the District of Columbia have live, legal sports betting, and five more states have live sports betting on the way.