The Super Bowl is tomorrow and it’ll be a super-temptation for many Iowans who can’t resist making a wager. Tiffini Pinkerton, a prevention specialist at Heartland Family Service in Council Bluffs, says there’s no magic number of bets placed or money spent before you’re considered a problem gambler.
“It could be about the frequency, it could be about the money,” Pinkerton says. “Some of the other warning signs or things to watch for include: constantly paying attention to the sports and the spreads, being irritated or restless or very nervous about the outcomes of the games, keeping the betting a secret.”
A study out last year estimated 16,500 Iowans are considered problem gamblers. The families of those people may also be suffering in several ways. “The most obvious one would be the financial impact,” Pinkerton says. “Often debt and gambling bills have been kept a secret and sometimes it’s only revealed when it’s a really bad problem.”
While the Council Bluffs office serves people in nine southwest Iowa counties, anyone in Iowa who thinks they or a loved one may have a gambling problem can get help with a toll-free phone call. Pinkerton says, “We would be able to help them figure out the underlying area that might cause somebody to use gambling as an escape or the excitement of gambling, taking a look at the whole picture about what is going on with the individual.”
The state’s gambling hotline is 800-Bets-Off. The call is confidential and services are available 24-7. Sports betting is big business.
The Super Bowl alone generates some ten-billion dollars in legal and illegal gambling every year.