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America Loves to Lose (Slate)


America Loves to Lose – By Joel Anderson (Slate) / Feb 24, 2024

The rise of sports betting has been one of the most startling changes of my lifetime. You can bet something else is coming alongside it.

This is Emotional Investment, Joel Anderson’s column about money and how we think about it. To suggest a subject or get in touch, email emotional.investment@slate.com.

When sports betting became legal in New Jersey, a guy I’ll call Rick downloaded an app and started going crazy making wagers on games. He lost $15,000 that first year. He could handle the loss—he’d recently gotten a promotion at work and was living frugally on his new $85,000-a-year salary, sharing an apartment in Philadelphia with two roommates—but he saw how quickly things could spiral.

Rick had been gambling since college, starting out placing bets with a classmate who had his own little sportsbook. Once, he’d lost so many bets in a row that he didn’t have the money to pay up—thanks to LeBron James’ curiously passive play in Game 5 of the 2010 Eastern Conference semifinals. His bookie, rumored to be part of the Russian mafia, decided to cut him a break.

“I was nervous because I met this guy through my friends who were doing [cocaine],” Rick said. “But he was, like, ‘Usually it’s an issue. But I know you, you’ve been a customer for a while. So I’ll let you pay me back with interest.’ ” It took a year for Rick to pay off the debt, and it involved stopping his regular contribution to his 401(k) through the drugstore where he worked in school.

CONTINUE > https://slate.com/business/2024/02/sports-betting-huge-rise-whats-coming.html


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