MICHIGAN CITY — Brian Urlacher leaned over the counter at the FanDuel SportsBook at the Blue Chip Casino on Thursday, eager to place the innagural first bet at the book on opening day of the NFL season.

"I'll take the Bears minus-three for 54 dollars," Urlacher told the bookkeeper.

He then turned around and held up a small, white receipt with his bet on it, officially putting money on the Bears to beat the Packers by more than three points Thursday night.

A poor offensive performance led to Chicago's and Urlacher's bet's demise, but I have a slight hunch he didn't lose much sleep over being in the hole 54 bucks. Urlacher and the rest of the sports gambling community share the same sentiment about betting on games — it makes games more enjoyable, especially contests that one wouldn't be invested in if it weren't for a short-term financial investment in athletics.

"With fantasy football and sports betting and everything, people are going to bet on games somehow," Urlacher said. "Whether it be with a bookie or something, people are going to bet. People want to be interested in games, and gambling just gives them another reason to root for a team."

Much like how fantasy football gives fans a vetting rooting interest in a certain player they wouldn't typically pay attention to, sports betting does the same, but in a broader sense. Instead of focusing on one player's production and not paying attention to the overall outcome of the game, sports gambling can make an otherwise meaningless game between, say, the Dolphins and Buccaneers, the most important game of the weekend for someone.

A Bears fan could place a bet on one of either Miami or Tampa in this scenario, temporarily making one of the two their second-favorite team temporarily. Spreads and moneyline wagers (simply picking the team that one thinks will win) are great in rooting for a winner, but there's so many more options than that to spark one's interest.

Over-under points total bets force one to either root for both offenses or both defenses, depending on what you picked. With the excitement of all these high-powered offenses in the NFL nowadays, betting on the under can make a 10-3 sleeper of a game just as thrilling for an individual as the Chiefs-Rams Monday night game last year that combined for 105 points.

In addition to spreads, moneylines and over-unders, an investor can also bet on specific player props, like a receiver's over-under for yards in a game, a defensive player's over-under for tackles, etc. Sports gambling offers so many different avenues to make any game the game of the week for someone.

It's no surprise someone as interested in football as Urlacher promotes sports betting. Of course, he'll root for the Bears every week because that's a part of him. But for Urlacher and so many other fans across the country, it gives endless opportunities to make a multitude of sporting events more intriguing than they would be without gambling.

It's something we all as sports fans can and should get behind; because who doesn't want to sit on the edge of their seat watching the dwindling seconds of a Week 17 matchup between a pair of three-win teams?

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