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March Madness and Sports Gambling: Innocent Fun or Dangerous Pastime?

March Madness has begun.  Do you know at least one person who is participating in the “Brackets”?

What is for many just social gambling or harmless fun can turn into a struggle for the sports gambler and problem gambler alike.  By most estimates, gambling on March Madness tops $12 Billion dollars in “legal” bets worldwide.

“For problem/pathological gamblers, March Madness is neither social nor harmless.  March is a month when their addiction to gambling, their constant thinking about gambling/bets, their chasing after losses and dreams of ‘breaking even’ often result in physical and financial ruin.  Before the ‘Final Four’ play for the championship in April, we will see the problem/pathological gambler fall into emotional and mental despair.” says Carl Robertson, the Prevention Manager at the Maryland Center of Excellence on Problem Gambling.

March, 2014 is National Problem Gambling Awareness Month both Nationally and in Maryland.
Proclamations from both the Governor and the Mayor of Baltimore City emphasize that resources exist in Maryland to help individuals who have a problem with their gambling.  The Maryland Center of Excellence on Problem Gambling and the Maryland Council on Problem Gambling are promoting awareness and education that: Gambling is an Addiction and is treatable.

We Can Help
24/7 Helpline – 1-800-522-4700

Sings of compulsive sports gambling:
• Excessive telephone calls to 900 numbers and staying on internet sports pages
• Obsessive interest or talk about point spreads
• Shifting allegiance for/against the same team on different games
• Extremely defensive, agitated and argumentative about gambling behavior
• After losing, eager to bet again or more in order to get even or ahead

Problem gamblers often say they do not “feel addicted” but their behaviors are often very similar to other addicts as they chase after their next high.  Problem gambling can not only lead to other addictions, such as alcohol/substance abuse, but also to emotional and physical illnesses.