The Super Bowl next Sunday is expected to be a super bonanza for Garden State betting establishments.

“This year we’re particularly concerned as sports betting is now legal, and we know that more people, even those who didn’t traditionally gamble may gamble on the big game,” Neva Pryor, executive director of the Council on Compulsive Gambling of New Jersey, said.

She said an estimated $4.7 billion was bet illegally last year on the game, but with sports betting now permitted “we don’t really have any forecast — but I would imagine that’s going to be even more.”

She said for some, betting adds to the fun and excitement of the game. But for others it’s a destructive seduction that can ruin lives and families.

“We’re concerned that people will overextend themselves or might possibly create a problem," Pryor said.


Pryor said added element of concern is all of the side bets that can be placed on a football game — including who scores first, who will make the first interception, the first fumble. People may bet “on the coin toss, on what they think the color of somebody’s hair will be, or whatever.”

She said people can easily bet online “so they can be sitting at home and placing a bet, they can be at the office and placing a bet, so there’s more opportunity and more ease of play.”

She said the ease of online gambling has definitely created new concerns.

“That’s why we have such a high rate of problem gamblers in the state, we have over a 6 percent ratio of people who possibly have a gambling problem in the state of New Jersey," Pryor said.

She said the council is neither for nor against gambling, but “we want to encourage people if they are going to gamble to gamble responsibly.”

She added if someone thinks they might have a gambling problem, “they need to call 800-GAMBLER. We offer support, treatment and hope.”

Pryor said since sports betting became legal in New Jersey, the 1-800-GAMBLER helpline has had a 20 percent increase in calls, however most people say they’ve been gambling for years.

You can contact reporter David Matthau at

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