Raising awareness about problem gambling during March Madness tournament

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(ABC 6 News) – March isn’t just for making brackets, it’s also Problem Gambling Awareness Month.

The Minnesota Alliance on Problem Gambling is raising awareness about gambling addiction, as it predicts nearly $10 billion in both legal and illegal bets to be placed during this year’s NCAA Men’s Basketball March Madness.

According to a new survey by the American Gaming Association, 68 million American adults plan to bet on the tournament, meanwhile, 4 – 6 million of which are considered to have mild or moderate gambling problems.

Warning signs of problem gambling include betting more than you can afford to lose, bragging about your wins but never the losses, lying about the amount you’re betting, and spending long periods of time gambling or betting more frequently.

With a majority of people making brackets and bets online, it’s easier to develop these harmful habits.

“The electronic accessibility makes it easier, it also makes it easier for someone to isolate. You can now sit in your home on your phone and nobody knows,” says MNAPG Executive Director Susan Sheridan Tucker. “It’s not that we’re against gambling, we just want it to be safe for all players.”

Some precautions to take when it comes to gambling include setting a time limit, setting a spending limit, checking in with how you feel, and being honest with yourself.

Problem Gambling Awareness Month is also about raising awareness about for resources available to those who do need help with problem gambling.

“There’s a variety of ways that people can approach recovery. For some, it means total abstinence, that’s the way in which it’s going to be helpful for them. For others, it may be just adjusting, that they pull back, take a break,” says Tucker.

You can find a full list of resources on MNAPG’s website, or call the Minnesota Gambling Helpline 1-800-333-4673.