Place your bets …

It wasn’t too long ago that I remember seeing and hearing ads on TV and radio about gambling. The ads were all about getting help for a gambling addiction. They talked about people who couldn’t pay their bills because they had spent all their money on gambling. These ads, as I recall, were pretty powerful. They could be very emotional and were aimed at those who struggled with gambling.

Those ads seemed to have all but disappeared recently. Maybe it is because of the overabundance of Casino ads. Here in Michigan there are always ads on TV for the major casinos in the area. Many of them focus on the entertainment coming to their showrooms, but there are plenty of ads just promoting various games, free play, etc….

Within the last month, I cannot believe the number of ads that are on TV and radio now for sports betting. They are everywhere. You cannot watch a sporting event without seeing these ads. The ads are not limited to just TV and radio, either. There are billboards for it all along the expressways and public buses have ads slapped along the sides of them. “Your first bet is risk free!” “We’ll give you $1000 free when you place your bet!” There are so many of these enticing ads.

The celebrities are jumping on the bandwagon, too. They are staring in the ads. You can see Martin Lawrence for DraftKings; Ben Affleck, Shaquille O’Neal and Melvin Gregg for WynnBET; Jamie Foxx for BetMGM; and Jordan Spieth for FanDuel.Credit…. just to name a few. As often as they used to air those ads offering “help” for gamblers, it is now apparent that they want to take advantage of those who have a gambling problem.

The first time I ever stepped into a casino, it was because I was there to escort a contest winner to a backstage event. I got there early and brought a roll of quarters and nickels with me (this was before everything went on a card). I walked over to the slot machines and I was out of money in less than 20 minutes. I couldn’t believe how fast it went! I won nothing!!

At a sleep conference held at a casino, I woke up early one morning and walked through the gambling floor. There was a woman who was about 75 or 80 years old at the $5 or $10 slot machine. She must have hit the “spin” button 30 times in a span of 5 minutes. She was still there at that same machine when I came back from wherever I was going. All I could think of was how she was dropping $5 or $10 at a time. I couldn’t help but wonder just how much money she spent in the period of time I saw her.

I guess these new ads about gambling and sports betting got me to thinking. If one time it was a big enough problem to offer help to those with a gambling problem, what are these ads doing to those who are still suffering from gambling addiction? I’m guessing those new apps could care less – after all, they just want their (and your) money.