If you do it for fun, great. But sadly, too many think it’s profitable

If you gamble legally, I don’t judge you. That might sound odd coming from someone whose job is helping people get out of debt. After all, gamblers rarely end up making money. There’s a reason for the expression, “The house always wins.”

Believe it or not, I advise gamblers to mimic grocery shoppers: create a budget and stick to it. If gambling is something you enjoy as a pastime, and you’re doing it legally, then set aside what you can afford to lose. It’s no different than allocating money to go to music festivals or fancy dinners or shopping excursions. It’s your entertainment budget.

Of course, gambling is also an addiction – and an illness. I hope anyone reading this who feels they can’t control their gambling will call the National Problem Gambling Helpline at 1-800-522-4700.

On the eve of a new NFL season, and with sports betting now legal in two dozen states – check ESPN’s map to see about yours – it seems like a good time to talk about responsible gambling.

Playing the game

Sports betting is already a $150 billion industry, and most of that is spent on the NFL. Since football is the dominant sport in this country, that’s no surprise.

In the 1990s, I was placekicker for the Seattle Seahawks, Buffalo Bills, and New York Jets. In 1995, I even led the AFC in touchbacks. So I understand the allure of the game. I also understand how that allure can turn into obsession.

During and after my NFL, I saw intelligent and responsible people do something ridiculous: Believe they could make thousands of dollars betting on NFL games. If they studied the weather, the rosters, and the trends of both teams, they just knew they could reliably make money betting on the game I once played.

As someone whose job it was to handle the football several times a game, I can tell you: Even those of us on the field and the sidelines had no idea what would happen. That oblong ball bounces in funny ways.

Gambling the right way

As an NFL player and now a company president, I’ve known plenty of people who gamble on football. Many do it the right way. They build it into their entertainment budget. They set aside $50 or $100 a week – and sometimes a lot more if they earn a lot more – just to lay it on games they think they can win.

If they lose, they stop. If they win, they either spend that money on more games or treat friends and family to dinner or gifts. But they never, ever look at gambling as a job. Sure, there are professional gamblers, and I’ve heard all the radio spots and listened to supposed “experts” touting ways you can make sports betting a career – if you send them some money to learn their secrets.

Trust me, there is no secret. Take it from someone who played the game and still watches it. But if you’ve already gotten yourself into debt, call me at Debt.com. I know how to help you kick the habit.

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About the Author

Don Silvestri

Don Silvestri

Before Don Silvestri became president of Debt.com, he spent two decades as a senior executive overseeing marketing, sales, strategic planning, business and product development. His experience included website design, media buying, affiliate marketing, social networking, lead generation, and search engine marketing. But Don is best known for playing for NFL teams like the New York Jets, Buffalo Bills and Seattle Seahawks. He holds dual degrees in Marketing and Business Administration from the University of Pittsburgh, where he was an Academic All-American. It was in the NFL that Silvestri first became interested in helping people get out of debt. It might seem odd that sharing the field and locker room with well-paid athletes would make Silvestri think about debt, but he saw many players earn high salaries and spend even higher amounts. He quickly realized that a good salary doesn’t ensure a good life, and he wondered how he could get adults out of debt now, while at the same time teaching children to avoid debt in the future. When Silvestri left the NFL and launched his business career, he accrued all the experience he would need to become president of the nation’s one-stop shop for debt relief. He’s been quoted in national media about debt trends and serves on the board of Junior Achievement of South Florida, where he strives to teach schoolchildren financial literacy – so they don’t grow into indebted adults. Silvestri also serves on the executive board of Parkland Cares, which supports mental health trauma counseling for any South Floridians who need it. He’s been recognized as a “Foster Care Hero” for fostering a dozen children and adopting his son from the foster care system.

Published by Debt.com, LLC