The National Council on Problem Gambling: Watch Out for Signs of Problem Gambling During March Madness

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March Madness can be a difficult time for gamblers and their loved ones.


The NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament is now in full swing, but for some gamblers March Madness describes more than just a sporting event, it describes their life. This time of year is particularly difficult for recovering gambling addicts. Brackets are filled out and often times, whether legal or illegal, money is wagered on these brackets, bets are placed on favorite teams and players, and those wagering are eager to see if they placed a smart bet.

“I think of how tough it must be for problem gamblers in recovery when coverage of the tournament and brackets seem 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 point or even one shot away from winning back everything or losing it all,” says Keith Whyte, Executive Director of the National Council on Problem Gambling.

Problem gambling is real. It is an addiction just like abuse of drugs or alcohol and the effects are just as devastating. There are at least 6 million adults in the U.S. who suffer from gambling problems. Warning signs of problem gambling include:

  •     Using income or savings to gamble while letting bills go unpaid
  •     Repeated, unsuccessful attempts to stop gambling
  •     Chasing losses
  •     Arguing with friends or family about gambling behavior
  •     Feeling depressed or suicidal because of gambling losses

March is National Problem Gambling Awareness Month, so when filling out brackets or cheering on your favorite team make sure to watch for the warning signs of gambling addiction in yourself and those who you care about. Problem gambling is preventable and treatable. There is hope and help available 24/7. Calls to the National Problem Gambling Helpline Network (1-800-522-4700) are free and confidential, and you will be directed to local resources. For more information, please visit


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