Sports Betting and Gambling Resources

I will admit it – I have been spending a decent amount of time watching football recently. And who can blame me? There have been entertaining and surprising games every weekend, but one of the biggest surprises for me didn’t take place on the field. It happened during the commercial breaks – over, and over, and over. Another admission…I do not watch a lot of traditional television. So, it’s entirely possible I am just missing the massive amount of sports betting commercials on tv. It’s so prevalent that online betting is even included in the pregame shows with the commentators.

Sports betting, in it’s current form, really dates back to 2018 and a decision made by the Supreme Court. Since then, it has been adopted in different ways, shapes, and forms by many states, including Iowa. It is probably too early to understand the impact; however, there are some early results and plenty of resources available for those experiencing a challenge with sports betting, and gambling, in general.

The Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission provides oversight for the state’s gambling activities, while the Iowa Department of Public Health provides treatment and prevention services. Workers with an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) may have access to counseling services for those experiencing a challenge with gambling. Iowa State University Extension and Outreach does not cover gambling-specific topics, but we do have a wide variety of financial education topics for Iowans in need!

Ryan Stuart

Ryan is a Human Sciences Specialist in Family Wellbeing and an Accredited Financial Counselor®. He focuses on educating and empowering all Iowans to independently make positive financial decisions throughout their life course.

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Sports Betting Tips

Today’s guest blogger is Kalyn Cody, ISU Extension Human Sciences Specialist serving the DesMoines metro region. Kalyn Cody photo

Last week, I, like many Iowans, walked into my local casino to set up a profile for online sports betting. 

After a law passed in May and final rules were approved in July, sports betting began on August 15th at many casinos in Iowa.  The law allows for both in-person and online bets, but everyone must first check in at a casino to verify their age and identity. With this new opportunity to gamble in Iowa, it is important that we remember some key tips to bet responsibly and not get in over our heads. 

First, always gamble with a plan.  Pick an amount you are comfortable losing.  Does this amount fit into your budget?  Will you have to sacrifice things you need if you lose?  Additionally, pick an amount you are comfortable winning.  Set a dollar amount at which you will walk away.  It is very common to see a stack of chips or winning tickets and continue playing, only to look down again a bit later with nothing left.  Whether you are winning or losing, have an exit strategy.

Second, never borrow money to make a bet.  Think of sports betting as entertainment.  Would you take a loan to watch the headliner at the State Fair?  To go out to a 4-star dinner?  Every gambler has a bad beat story—probably many—and taking a loss on borrowed money can easily spiral out of control. 

Finally, if you do find yourself struggling with a gambling problem, be aware of resources that are available to help.  The Iowa Department of Public Health has set up a website with a risk assessment, hotline, live chat, and more.  You can also call the ISU Extension Iowa Concern Line at 800-447-1985. 

Enjoy your new options, but remember to stay in control of your bets.

Barb Wollan

Barb Wollan's goal as a Family Finance program specialist with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach is to help people use their money according to THEIR priorities. She provides information and tools, and then encourages folks to focus on what they control: their own decisions about what to do with the money they have.

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