Whether going to the casino or playing poker online or in a real-life setting, gambling has become increasingly accessible and popular.Another form of gambling is betting on sports competitions. As an athlete it is important to understand how betting can affect you differently than the average person. Since you have influence over games and access to information that other people do not, there are rules and regulations that must be understood in order to be protected against negative effects of betting. By educating yourself about the fair play principles and betting regulations you can safeguard yourself from making mistakes that could harm your career(see further below: ‘How can I protect myself from illegal betting and match-fixing?’ and Integrity – betting).
When played with minimum amounts and among friends, gambling can be an enjoyable pastime. However, there is a risk of losing control and becoming a problem gambler, especially for athletes.
The ‘need’ for competitiveness
Due to a number of personality traits that make athletes excel on the field, they are also more vulnerable to the dangers of gambling. Top athletes are actually three times more likely to be problem gamblers than the general public. In addition, for athletes who are unable to financially support themselves when their athletic careers hit a low or they are faced with retirement, gambling may seem like a solution to their financial woes.
Athletes’ competitive nature has the potential to ‘spill over’ from the playing field to their personal lives. Gambling provides athletes with an additional outlet in which they are able to compete. However, it is easy to build up a tolerance to the ‘adrenaline rush’ associated with competition, which can result in the need to remain actively competitive even when the activities are friendly or simply for fun.
Normally, when a loss takes place in gambling, the normal reaction for a person who is simply playing for entertainment, would be to not continue. However, the top athlete may begin to employ specific strategies (in how they gamble, when they gamble, and what they gamble on) with the mind-set that they can create situations which will result in a win.