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It’s March and basketball “madness” abounds! Based on press reports, last year over 70 million Americans wagered over $10 billion on the NCAA Basketball “March Madness” brackets and many of those wagers in illegal bets (office and online pools and other “community settings”). The 2020 tournament is expected to be even bigger with sports betting legislation being discussed and/or passed in many states.

For most, completing and “betting” on tournament brackets is a fun, competitive group activity. But for some, “March Madness” may be part of a more problematic approach to gambling.

Gambling should never be viewed as a solution to financial problems and for making up for past losses. Problem gambling is not just an individual problem, but can disrupt friendships, family relationships, and life.

Here are a few tips to take the madness out of March Tournaments:

  • Only gamble what you can afford to lose – set a dollar limit to the amount of money you bet and stay within that budget
  • View tournament pools as a form of entertainment – do not chase past gambling losses or view tournament pools as a way to make money
  • Limit alcohol use when gambling
  • Participate as part of a fun group activity – avoid gambling when you are alone or depressed

If you or someone you know struggles with problems around gambling, there is help and hope. Call, text or chat for free, 24/7 at 1-800-GAMBLER (1-800-426-2537), helpmygamblingproblem.org.