Keeping Sports Betting in Perspective

A lady parts with £20 to a bookmaker at Goodwood racecourse on July 29, 2015 in Chichester, England. Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images

One of the most common misconceptions about sports betting, or any form of gambling, is that it is only the losers who have problems as a result of their gambling activities. Nothing could be farther from the truth. While those who habitually lose money have a different set of problems which arise from financial concerns, a number of sports gamblers, including those who break-even or even show a profit, will find their sports betting to be a disruptive force in their family life.

A primary reason is the amount of time sports betting occupies a person. This doesn't mean handicapping the games, or the process in which a person places their bets, which is where a bettor should spend the most time, but instead usually involves watching the games on television all night. When that's done on a daily basis, it's easy to see how one's spouse could become a little upset.

One of the things many sports bettors need to admit is that whether they watch the game on television or not will have no bearing on the final outcome. It's not as though the Lakers are going to call a timeout and say, "Well, Bob turned the television off so there's no point in trying anymore."

The final score will still be the same, regardless if you get it online immediately after the contest, from watching ESPN, or from the morning paper. You don't have to spend every night staying glued to the TV or in front of the computer.

Take a night or two off and spend it with your family or friends. You'll all feel better about it.

Hiding Your Betting

I'm constantly amazed by the number of people who hide their sports betting activities from their spouse. Such an act is a disaster waiting to happen and in many cases the bettor will eventually lose much more than their sports bets.

They'll lose their family as well.

A person hiding their sports gambling from their spouse is usually doing so because the spouse believes they can't afford to lose the money that is wagered. If that's the case, the bettor needs to ask themselves if they are betting too much or if they should even be betting at all. If a bettor realizes they shouldn't be betting, but can't help themselves, then it's time to consider getting help with their gambling habit. I'm not an expert on compulsive gambling, but I do know enough to recognize some of the symptoms, and betting when you know you shouldn't is certainly one of them.

Looking to Get Rich

Another avenue in which sports bettors tend to lose perspective is in the size of their wagers. Far too many bettors are constantly betting more than should be, although the proliferation of online sportsbooks  has helped to a minor extent, as bettors may only wager the amount of money they have in their account.

Those betting on credit through an illegal bookie are more prone to wagering excessive amounts, especially in the beginning of a new week, as they believe they have five or six days to get even if they should happen to lose money. Bettors who normally place $200 wagers will often find themselves betting $500 or more on a game when the new week begins, which again, is a disaster in the works.

One piece of advice sports bettors should take note of is Lem Banker's saying, "Bet not what you want to win, but what you can afford to lose." That goes hand-in-hand with another piece of good advice, which says if your sports betting winnings or losings are going to change the quality of your lifestyle, you're probably betting too much.

Many sports bettors don't realize that if they're betting on a game for enjoyment purposes, it can be just as fun with a $20 wager on a game as it is with a $400 wager. The main difference is a bit less anxiety, and if a bettor really needs that anxiety, they probably shouldn't be gambling in the first place.

What Sports Betting Should Be

The main reason a person should bet on sports is for enjoyment. If they happen to make a bit of money at the same time, that's great, but the amount of people who will show a long-term profit in sports betting is extremely small.

For many people, sports betting is essentially a hobby and something they do because they enjoy watching an occasional game with a few dollars placed on the outcome. If they lose, that's fine with them, since just about every hobby will cost money. These are the type of people who probably get more from sports betting than anybody else, even those few people who make a living from it. Hopefully, you fall into this category.

It's when sports betting begins to take on added importance in a person's life that they need to be aware of what is happening and realize that they may have a gambling problem. If sports betting is causing problems in a person's personal life, it's time to make a change and if a person is unable to change on their own, perhaps it's time to do so with some help.