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My Name Is Ron. I Once Bet The Bud Bowl

January 27, 1996

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (AP) _ Watching the Super Bowl is an American tradition. So is betting on it.

Come Sunday, wagers will be placed on everything from the coin toss to the final score. There’s the score by quarters, team rushing yardage, individual rushing yardage, first player to score, first team to kick a field goal, Most Valuable Player of the game.

Ron, a 29-year-old member of Gamblers Anonymous who didn’t want his full name or hometown used, once put money on which beer would prevail in a commercial.

``I was betting the Bud Bowl,″ he said.

Super Bowl Sunday is the biggest betting day of the year. Last year, an estimated $4 billion was bet illegally on the NFL championship. Legally, Las Vegas sports books took in $69.6 million.

Much of the action is from regular bettors who see the Super Bowl as their last chance to get even or get ahead after a season’s worth of football wagering.

But the big game can also make serious bettors out of casual fans, said Edward Looney, executive director of the New Jersey Council on Compulsive Gambling.

``It’s the availability. All year, these pools aren’t there. Everybody’s involved with a pool, whether it be a teacher, sales executive, whoever,″ Looney said. ``Some get excited about it and realize, `Hey, I can bet one game every week and not wait for the Super Bowl.′ That’s how we see people get introduced to illegal gambling.″

Ron started betting on Super Bowls when he was 14. By 17, he was betting up to $500 on regular-season games. The Super Bowl brought super bets, sometimes up to $3,000.

``I wanted to win back what I lost for the season,″ he said. ``It was my last hope. That was my goal. Even if I was down $10,000 and couldn’t, I would try my hardest to get as much as I could back.″

Michael ``Roxy″ Roxborough, whose company makes the line for the major Las Vegas bookmakers, picked the Dallas Cowboys over the Pittsburgh Steelers by 13 1/2 points, and projected the teams’ combined point total would be 51. Then he crossed his fingers.

``We’re just making sure nothing catastrophic happens like (Cowboys quarterback) Troy Aikman slips in the bathtub and breaks a wrist,″ Roxborough said.

Jimmy, 55, is an engineer who joined Gamblers Anonymous 21 years ago. He remembers Super Bowl III, when Joe Namath led the underdog New York Jets to a shocking 16-7 victory over the Baltimore Colts.

``I bet everything I owned on the Colts,″ he said. ``I had about $9,000 down in three different bets. I remember that day, I was painting my apartment and I said, `No sense doing this. Tomorrow I can pay someone else to do it.‴

When the Jets won, Jimmy couldn’t pay. He got money from loan sharks, cashed in insurance policies and went deeper into debt to pay his markers.

``I almost had to leave town,″ he said.

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