Since gambling’s popularity has increased with mobile phone wagering and web-based gambling sites, placing a bet has never been easier. We can legally wager on sports on apps in an instant, play a favorite casino game from a laptop and never leave the couch. Leading up to Super Bowl Sunday, TV viewers were inundated with enticing ads for “free money” by placing bets.

Whether its a weekly poker game, betting on horses, playing the lottery, a weekend at a casino, many people enjoy these activities without suffering financial or emotional harm. When gambling becomes a problem, it can lead to more than financial stress. From relationship and/or work conflicts, emotional or psychological distress and physical health issues, to lies, deceit and broken promises, even suicide ideation.

“The recent Super Bowl was a difficult time for many people and definitely triggering, just like March Madness, or other sporting events we have throughout the year in Arizona,” said Elise Mikkelsen with the Division of Problem Gambling. She added, “For the first time, the Super Bowl was played in a state where sports’ betting is legal.”


Not everyone who bets comes out a winner

Not everyone who places bets has the money to lose. “If gambling is interfering with your life in a negative manner, whether financially, emotionally, or in relationships. Or if your significant other is mentioning they are not okay with your behavior and the choices you’re making, that could be a warning sign.” Mikkelsen said.

In Arizona, the access to sports betting since September 2021 has increased significantly. According to a news story on ABC15, “Arizonans wagered more than $563 million in January alone.” (

Maureen Michael, Executive Director of Compass Recovery Center in Prescott said, “Working with patients who suffer from gambling disorder, several have reported an increase in the volume of betting since legalization in Arizona. One patient recently said he could stay home and bet all night with all of the different apps available, and it almost ruined his marriage. Most patients report they are able to go to any of the sports betting apps and open an account easily, often with promises of free money. If they lose, they will just download a different app.

As a licensed professional in the mental health field, it is difficult to watch the predatory advertising that is allowed for sports betting. Since 2013, Gambling Disorder has been listed in the DSM-5 as a substance use disorder.  There is no other substance use disorder that is allowed to advertise free product the way that sports betting apps have been allowed to. We don’t see alcohol commercials advertising a free six pack to try their beer. Yet, anyone can get anywhere from $50 up to $300 or more for signing up and depositing as little as $5 to try a sports betting app.

In my professional opinion, gambling disorder will be the next epidemic in the mental health field and as an industry, we need to be better prepared and increase access to care for those that will seek help. It is estimated that 1 in 5 people who suffer from gambling disorder have attempted suicide which is higher than any other addictive disorder.”  (


Get Help — Recovery is Possible

The Division of Problem Gambling offers resources and information for all Arizonans who could potentially be impacted by problem gambling. The goal is to increase community awareness about the effects of problem gambling, and increase awareness that problem gambling is a preventable and treatable public health issue.

CALL 24-hour helpline 1-800-NEXT-STEP |   TEXT  NEXT-STEP to  53342

Compass Recovery Centers —1-800-216-1840
Gamblers Anonymous —
ACT Counseling & Education— 602-569-4328
AZ Council Compulsive Gambling— 1-800-777-7207
National Gambling Hotline  —1-800-522-4700