Problem Gambling After The Madness Fades Posted On

March was Problem Gambling Awareness Month, which regularly follows one of the biggest football games of the year and falls in the same month as college basketball’s madness championship tournament.  Regardless of what news or research article you read, you’ll find that tens of millions of dollars are spent betting on these sporting events nationwide.  This year, the Olympics fell right in between the football championship and the college basketball championship tournament.  Someone struggling with gambling, especially with sports betting, may have experienced more difficulty over the last few months; feeling as though they may be going mad!

“Madness” Defined

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines “madness” as:

  • Behavior or thinking that is very foolish or dangerous;
  • A severely disordered state of mind;
  • Frenzied behavior in animals.

During the month of March, large amounts of money are wagered on the basketball championship, many games are being played over a short period of time, and there are excessive numbers of opportunities to gamble. All of this additional exposure to the triggers of gambling, could cause someone struggling with problem gambling to enter a state of madness.  Someone struggling may find themselves making unhealthy choices (betting more than they can afford), they may act dangerously (getting into fights with people over wins/loses), they may have unrealistic thoughts (believing that luck will help them when luck has no effect on the outcome of a game), or they may get lost in their gambling behavior.  All of these things could damage their relationships, career, and themselves.  Given the added exposure to gambling during the month of March, and the associated risks for those struggling, the term “March Madness” takes on a whole different meaning.

March and Problem Gambling

The month of March can be an especially difficult time for someone struggling with problem gambling.  Some reasons this time of year is so difficult include:

  • Increased access to gambling opportunities;
  • Increased availability of gambling opportunities (I.e. work, school, and family brackets);
  • Increased frequency of games going on (67 games in 12 days) to place bets;
  • Assumption that this is a time to win back losses from previous sporting event gambling;
  • Using this time to escape problems by increasing time and money spent gambling on sports.

This increase of time and money spent gambling due to the access, availability and frequency of opportunities may have made the problems that stem from gambling much more apparent.  Some of the problems due to gambling may include:

  • Disrupted sleep due to anxiety from gambling;
  • Arguments and disappointments between loved ones due to gambling;
  • Withdrawal from family and friends to focus on gambling;
  • Lost time from work or school due to gambling;
  • Changes in personality while problems get worse due to gambling;
  • Self-destructive thoughts due to gambling.

Take Action

To help prevent a struggle with gambling, education is key.  To gain a better understanding of problem gambling, the Know The Odds site has a list of resources available like ebooks, infographics and videos.  A great place to start is by reading the Understanding Problem Gambling ebook, which will give a basic overview of what problem gambling is, who can be affected, and some warning signs to look out for.

Support groups are available for those struggling with problem gambling, and those negatively affected by a loved one’s gambling.  Gambler’s Anonymous is available for those struggling with problem gambling interested in recovery, and GAM-ANON is available for those negatively affected by a loved one’s gambling. 

Getting help for the effects of problem gambling is important for some struggling with problem gambling, and is also helpful for those adversely affected by someone else’s gambling.  Thankfully, there are a variety of help options for everyone. The best way to find options for support is to call the NYS HOPEline at 1-877-8-HOPENY (that’s 1-87-846-7369).