Vice Squad
Tuesday, January 27, 2004
The Super Bowl

Well, the Super Bowl is just a few days away. I love football, but as a Chiefs fan, I'm still pretty bitter about the way our season ended. And by the way, although the AFC Divisional Playoff game where we lost to Indianapolis was know..."actual" end of our season; they played us well, beat us at home, and deserved to win; for me, the "emotional" end of our season was the Colt's meltdown the following week. That really threw salt in the wound, and officially ended my interest in watching the NFL for the year. Although last Sunday when forced to choose between Stars on Ice, a dog show, and Celebrity Hair Braiding - Palm Beach, for my Sunday sports fix, I decided I'll probably watch the Big Game anyway. It's a long time until next fall.

But I digress. What, you may ask, does any of this have to do with Vice? Well, according to an article yesterday in the San Diego Union Tribune, gambling on the Super Bowl is America's favorite pastime. Although it's nearly impossible to judge the accuracy of the claim, the Council on Compulsive Gambling of New Jersey estimates that $4 billion was wagered on Super Bowl XXXIII. However, it's estimated that approximately $3.9 billion of that came from bets made by Bill Bennett. (That's a joke.)

Bad news for Vice Squad coverage of gambling though - the article states, "Once upon a time in America, gambling was regarded as a vice. Today, it may be more of a mainstream activity than Sunday church services." Somebody should probably get on the horn to Falwell about that one.

All kidding aside, the article does a nice job of explaining how important gambling is to the popularity of the NFL, and touches on some issues associated with problem gambling. I have personally seen the increased significance of gambling on the NFL with my friends involved in fantasy football over the last three years or so. All of a sudden, they are screaming and going nuts over games that they wouldn't have even bothered to watch a few years back. It's an interesting phenomenon for some, but it can be a serious problem for others.

Gambling counselor Arnie Wexler, who made his last bet in 1968, sums up the issue nicely: "If you take the gambling away from NFL games, you basically have soccer." Not that there's anything wrong with soccer.

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