Friday, April 18, 2014

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Western NY

Betting on the Big Game

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It's one of the biggest weekends of the year for football fans, and some estimates say more than half of U.S. adults will have at least some money riding on this year's Super Bowl. For some, there's a bigger risk than just money.

The biggest game of the pro football season is known for a lot of things.

At The Distillery, it's cool beverages, and hot wings.

For football fans, the lines are drawn.

"I'm rooting for the Ravens this weekend," said Steve Vandewalle.

"I think I'd like to see Baltimore," said Terry Van Epps.

"I like San Francisco. You never know. It's a gamble," said Ray Merced.

Gambling is another big part of Super Sunday. Office pools are popular, even attracting the casual fan.

"We're in a pool in my office right now. I've got ten bucks on the game. Just a friendly office pool around the hospital," Steve said.

"Where I work currently, we don't, but I have in the past. It's kind of a fun, uneventful thing to do but it gives you something to root for," said Terry.

In places where betting on the big game is legal, the game's an even bigger draw. Some estimates put expected Las Vegas gambling on the Super Bowl at $95 million dollars in wagers this year, which would be a record. Much of that will come from casual gamblers. But much of it won't.

"People that gamble and gamble consistently and are addicted often have huge debts," said mental health counselor Tom Porpiglia.

Porpiglia says for problem gamblers, the Super Bowl is seen as a big potential payday, but many get in over their heads.

"How much are they gonna put down on it? Are they going to risk their family, their marriage, their car, their job, house?"

Risks many don't realize until it's too late.

"They gotta hit bottom. They really do," Porpiglia said.

The Vegas numbers on Super Bowl bets don't even take into consideration offshore betting, or the millions placed with illegal bookies.

Office pools and the like are legal in states like New York, which allow social gambling. Those who are in them say a few bucks makes the game more interesting, even if they don't have a horse in the race.

"Makes it easier to root for someone," said Terry.

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