The Signs of Sports Betting Addiction: A Quiz

This piece is part of a series of stories about today’s sports-betting boom and how to combat a gambling addiction. To read the rest of the stories, click here.

MH JOINED FORCES with Marc Lefkowitz, ICGC-II, and Timothy Fong, M.D., for a quiz that determines if you have healthy sports-betting habits or if it’s time to delete the sportsbook from your phone.

are you addicted to sports betting quiz

1. When I wake up, I . . .

A. Immediately check the spreads (odds) for today’s games.

B. Get ready for work, then turn on ESPN to see if there are any good games on later.

C. Don’t really think about sports at all.

2. While watching a game, I . . .

A. Constantly check the live lines to make additional bets.

B. Think about how much more money I should have bet on the game.

C. Watch it for the game and the game only.

3. When it comes to the money I gamble with . . .

A. There’s no amount I won’t bet.

B. I sometimes bet more than I can afford.

C. I know my limit and stick to it.

4. I place my sports bets . . .

A. All day—at work, at the gym, you name it.

B. Sometimes throughout the day, if necessary.

C. Only during leisure time.

5. When I’m betting on a game . . .

A. It stresses me out, and it’s all I think about.

B. It’s hard to balance my excitement between the game and the money I bet.

C. It makes me more excited for the game.

6. After a bet doesn’t hit, I . . .

A. Chase after my losses and bet more.

B. Try to figure out other ways to earn back the money..

C. Move on.

7. When the sports I typically bet on aren’t playing, I . . .

A. Find something random to bet on.

B. Try to distract myself with something else.

C. Feel completely fine and don’t think about betting.

8. If family or friends ask about my sports bets, I . . .

A. Tell them I won even if I lost.

B. Try to change the subject.

C. Tell them the truth.

9. When I don’t have enough money to bet with, I . . .

A. Resort to borrowing or stealing.

B. Pull the money from other accounts.

C. Don’t bet.

10. During a losing streak, I feel . . .

A. Angry, and sometimes even argue with friends or family.

B. Down, but it’s not the end of the world.

C. Fine—I shrug it off.

11. When I try to stop betting on sports . . .

A. It doesn’t last long.

B. I stop for a while, but the urge comes again and I’m back in action.

C. I close my account and don’t even think about it.

12. I bet on sports because . . .

A. It’s a good way to make money.

B. It makes the games more interesting.

C. It’s fun!

Mostly A’s

It’s probably time to seek help. You’re participating in a dangerous cycle that could affect you and your loved ones, if it hasn’t already.

Mostly B’s

You should be more conscious of your sports-betting habits. It may seem as if you’re in control now, but things can change quickly.

Mostly C’s

You likely have healthy sports-betting habits. You typically bet for fun, know how to set limits, and never bet as a source of income.

The Science Behind the Addiction

RESEARCH SHOWS THAT both genetic and environmental factors contribute to a gambling disorder. As for what exactly goes on in the brain, experts are still trying to figure that out.

According to Marc Potenza, M.D., Ph.D., a board-certified psychiatrist and the director of the Yale Center of Excellence in Gambling Research, one of the most reliable findings is that the ventral striatum, a key part of the brain that deals with reward processing, is less activated. This means certain people may be neurologically predisposed to look for additional stimulation—whether that be drugs, alcohol, or playing the odds.

Gambling wins do lead to a spike in dopamine, the hormone closely associated with feelings of reward and pleasure, but research has led experts to question if there might be additional factors at play. And further complicating matters is something called cognitive distortions: This is basically failing to recognize the luck of gambling, leading to the false idea of control over the outcome.

As to why some people can bet responsibly while others become hooked, this may include a mixture of the following components:

Personality, i.e., impulsivity, compulsivity, and sensitivity to reward and punishment.

Mental-health history, i.e., treated or untreated depression or bipolar disorder.

Family history, i.e., having family members dealing with gambling addiction.

Environment, i.e., how much you’re exposed to gambling.

If you or someone you know may be struggling with a gambling addiction, contact 1-800-GAMBLER. Ready to take the next step? Book an appointment with Kindbridge Behavioral Health, and receive a 20 percent discount on your first therapy session using the code “MensHealth20.” Make sure to also include Men’s Health as the referral source on the intake form.

This article originally appears in the September 2023 issue of Men’s Health.

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Evan is the culture editor for Men’s Health, with bylines in The New York Times, MTV News, Brooklyn Magazine, and VICE. He loves weird movies, watches too much TV, and listens to music more often than he doesn’t.

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Deputy Editor

Rachel Epstein is the Deputy Editor at Men’s Health, where she oversees, edits, and assigns content across She previously held roles at Marie Claire and Coveteur. Offline, she’s likely watching a Heat game or finding a new coffee shop.

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