NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Whether you're in it to win it or just in for the thrill of it, sports betting has taken off in Tennessee.
As Super Bowl LVII approaches, Dr. James Whelan says many will place their first wagers. Last year, Tennessee sportsbooks collected $23 million in Superbowl betting.
"People gamble for the hope that they can fix everything, and that makes you hang on longer," said Whelan, professor and director of the Tennessee Institute for Gambling Education and Research in Memphis.
Since sports betting became legal in Tennessee two years ago, he's seen more people — particularly young men — come to him with a serious problem.
But many people with a gambling problem don't even realize they have one. Nine out of 10 people with a gambling problem never get the help they need.
"Gambling problems are probably the most stigmatized addiction," said Whelan.
"If you find yourself really chasing losses that you have, that's sort of a very basic sign that you want to pause," said Whelan.
Another red flag: lying to others about your gambling or doing more desperate things to pull money together.
So how do you gamble responsibly? Whelan said to make a plan.
"When you're not wrapped up and excited about the game, when you're in a pretty calm situation — that's the time that you can sit back and say, 'ah I can spend 100 bucks this weekend,'" he said.
With just a few weeks before the biggest sporting event of the year, he hopes those with a gambling problem have the courage to speak up and sit this game out.