March Madness: A Hard Time for Gambling Addicts

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As National Problem Gambling Awareness Week ends, March Madness begins. Advertisements fill the television, brackets are publicized and fans across the nation tune in to cheer on their teams. It’s all part of our sports culture, and the National Council on Problem Gambling encourages fans to enjoy the college basketball championships. But for those who struggle with an addiction to gambling, March Madness can be at terrible time.

As National Problem Gambling Awareness Week ends, March Madness begins. Advertisements fill the television, brackets are publicized and fans across the nation tune in to cheer on their teams. It’s all part of our sports culture, and the National Council on Problem Gambling encourages fans to enjoy the college basketball championships. But for those who struggle with an addiction to gambling, March Madness can be at terrible time.

“I think of how difficult it must be to stay sane and strong when coverage of the tournament, and gambling on the brackets, seems to be everywhere. All the while knowing one call to the local bookie gets you credit. Hearing the seductive bleep of emails offering free plays and can’t miss picks that are just one click away. Being one win, one game or one shot away from a big win in your mind” says Keith Whyte, Executive Director, NCPG.

It’s true that gambling and betting on sports can lead to a devastating addiction for some, but it doesn’t have to. When filling out brackets, or cheering on your favorite team, it is a good thing to remind yourself to place bets legally and to set and stick to a limit of time and money spent gambling. “If you are able to do that,” says Whyte “chances are you will never have a gambling problem.”

It’s also good to know some of the signs of a gambling addiction if you or someone that you know may have a problem.

  • Preoccupied with gambling and unable to stop
  • Bragging about gambling, exaggerating wins and minimizing losses
  • Restless and irritable when not gambling
  • Gambling to win back what you’ve lost
  • Borrowing money for gambling
  • Lying to hide time spent gambling or unpaid debts
  • Frequent unexplained absences
  • Losing work time because of gambling
  • Doing something illegal to get money for gambling
  • Jeopardizing a significant relationship or job by gambling

If some of these signs sound familiar, there is confidential help available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. By calling the National Problem Gambling Helpline at 1-800-522-4700, you will be directed to local resources that can assist and treat gambling problems.

Have fun this season and cheer on your favorite teams, but remember to do so safely and responsibly.

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