There’s a good chance you are gearing up to watch the NFL conference championship games in a couple of hours. Especially those of you snowed in the Northeast, hello New York. There’s also a good chance you may be gambling on the games, since in the past few years, sports gambling now legal. With it has come overwhelming advertising efforts and growing popularity. What has gotten lost along the way is whether this is a good thing for society or not.

In some respect the legalization of sports gambling simply brings into the legal, and regulated realm, what was already going on in offshore books, and the like. That doesn’t mean it is a costless affair. A recent Real Sports episode on HBO showed how it’s possible to tip over into addictive behavior with the major sports betting apps.

Anyone familiar with the stock market can easily recognize this type of behavior. One need only look back a year ago to the WallStreetBets/AMC/GameStop phenomenon to see how behaviors can easily go off track. Will Leitch, well known sports writer and author, is none too crazy about the sports betting boom.* In New York he writes “I think gambling is bad for the world, bad for individuals, and bad for sports.”

That being said Leitch recognizes that people ARE going to gamble and compiled a list of things to do to prevent you from blowing up your life along the way. When you read his rules for the road you can easily apply them to the stock market. A lot of things have been compared to the stock market like poker and even beauty contests. Now add sports gambling. From “How Not to Lose Your Shirt Gambling on Sports” Leitch writes:

  • Know the rules. Do nothing unless you know the rules.
  • Don’t bet money you don’t have. Set limits.
  • Do not pay anyone for advice. Ever.
  • Don’t bet on your favorite team. Leave emotions out of it.
  • Grinding is the only way to win.
  • The system is set up for everyone — even the top guys — to lose.
  • Don’t do it. Now you can’t say nobody ever told you so.

Unlike the stock market, sports gambling is a negative sum game. That is how the sports books generate revenue. In the stock market, active active investing has historically been shown to lag the indexes. Unlike in the stock market, there is no cheap, simple way to gamble on sports like investing in an index fund.

Nobody has to gamble on sports, but a lot of people will try their hand at it. The majority of people will do so without incurring major financial damage. All the more so if you keep Leitch’s rules for the road in mind.

*Leitch writes a great weekly newsletter with links to his new content. It’s one I look forward to every Saturday.