March Madness is here – are your friends preparing to fill out their brackets? Are you?
Every year, the NCAA’s 64-game March Madness tournament becomes a bigger betting extravaganza. In fact, it now rivals the Super Bowl as the world’s largest gambling event. According to the American Gaming Association, “more money is wagered during the first four days of the men’s March Madness tournament than on the Super Bowl” (read more in “March Madness: A Gambler’s Paradise”, published during the 2013 March Madness tournament).
Whether through online sports betting or betting amongst friends, March Madness can pose a serious threat to problem gamblers still gambling and those in recovery.
Avoiding March Madness Betting
Billions of dollars are bet illegally every March.
Brackets are arranged for friends, coworkers and other small groups to compete with, betting on who advances in the tournament, game scores and more.
Online sports betting opportunities allow individuals to monitor odds and online conversations as well as illegally place bets with others from around the country – and around the world.
If you’re worried about your gambling during March Madness, we have a few recommendations for resisting the temptation to gamble:
- Remove yourself from situations that may trigger an urge to gamble, such as being in sports bars when games are on, watching big games with large groups of friends or participating in conversations about brackets with coworkers.
- Politely excuse yourself from participating in any gambling pools at work or among groups of friends. If you feel comfortable, explain why you’d rather not participate, and see if there is anything these groups can do to distance the opportunity to gamble from you. Your boss may decide gambling is not the best idea for the workplace if it puts employees at risk.
- Keep emergency numbers, such as the NYS HOPEline (1-877-8-HOPENY), your counselor or a friend who understands your situation, with you in case of an emergency. The support of others can help keep your recovery on track when you have the urge gamble.
- Find other ways to enjoy March Madness. If you enjoy watching the games, find a friend or group of friends who are happy to enjoy the games with no gambling involved.
March Madness doesn’t have to pose a threat to your recovery. Take the steps necessary to keep yourself away from any betting activity, even if it means not watching the games at all.
National Problem Gambling Awareness Month
Every year during March Madness, people nationwide seek to raise awareness about problem gambling by celebrating National Problem Gambling Awareness Month (NPGAM). We seek to raise awareness of problem gambling’s warning signs and consequences, and we help people understand that help is available. We need to make sure people know where to find it.
We hope you participate in NPGAM with us. Together, we can help problem gamblers today – and prevent future addictions from ever beginning.