• March Madness and Gambling: Have the Conversation

    03.09.16Barbara Rollins

    Washington, DC – President Obama will fill out his NCAA bracket live on ESPN on Monday, March 14, kicking off a month of increased sports betting across the nation. The National Council on Problem Gambling says this is the perfect time to Have The Conversation about problem gambling with friends, partners and children.

    March is Problem Gambling Awareness Month (PGAM). The National Council on Problem Gambling has asked President Obama and Andy Katz of ESPN to include a responsible gaming message in President Obama’s appearance and include the National Problem Gambling Helpline on the President’s NCAA bracket.

    “If you or someone you know shows some of the signs below, have the conversation.”
    –Preoccupation with betting
    –Anxiety and sleeplessness due to gambling
    –Lying about amount of money spent wagering
    –Borrowing money to keep betting

    Those struggling with problem gambling or their loved ones can call or text 1-800-522-4700 or chat with someone who understands and can help at ncpgambling.org/chat.

    “While President Obama’s participation is all in good fun, for many problem gamblers  ‘March Madness’ truly describes their incredibly strong, persistent urges to gamble regardless of the consequences,” says Keith Whyte, Executive Director of the National Council of Problem Gambling. “People affected by gambling addiction report feeling trapped during the NCAA tournament, bombarded by commercials  and conversations about selections, brackets and Cinderella teams.”

    According to the American Gaming Association, an estimated 70 million Americans will fill out brackets this month and $9 billion will be wagered during the three-week basketball tournament.

    While gambling is an entertaining pastime for many, for some it can quickly become an overwhelming disorder. Chemicals in the brain are activated during gambling in much the same way as when drinking alcohol. Just as having a drink can develop into alcoholism, gambling activity can become an addiction, affecting more than 5 million Americans each year. Because a gambling disorder often goes unrecognized, only 8% of those with a problem ever seek treatment.

    Problem gambling is a legitimate mental health issue that responds well to treatment. If you suspect someone in your life has a gambling problem, have the conversation. Ask if they borrow money to gamble from friends or family. Ask if it interferes with their ability to focus on work or school. Ask if they’ve ever lied about their gambling or bet more than they intended.

    For more ideas on how to have the conversation, and information on problem gambling prevention and treatment resources, visit the National Council on Problem Gambling at ncpgambling.org or contact the National Problem Gambling Helpline 24/7: Call or text 1-800-522-4700, or chat at ncpgambling.org/chat. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter @NCPG #HavetheConvo for frequent updates.

    NCPG is the national advocate for problem gamblers and their families. NCPG is neutral on legalized gambling and leads state and national stakeholders in the development of comprehensive policy and programs for all those affected by problem gambling. Our vision is to improve health and wellness by reducing the personal, social and economic costs of problem gambling.



    MARCH 9, 2016
    Contact: Keith Whyte, 202.547.9204 x23 or keithw@ncpgambling.org
    Click here for a pdf of this press release