March Madness presents challenging time for those battling gambling addiction

The National Council on Problem Gambling says there are 10 million Americans suffering from a gambling disorder, and experts say the numbers keep rising.

Mark Sudol

Mar 23, 2023, 9:50 PM

Updated 388 days ago

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March Madness presents challenging time for those battling gambling addiction
The National Council on Problem Gambling says there are 10 million Americans suffering from a gambling disorder, and experts say the numbers keep rising. They say the next two weeks of the NCAA tournament could make the matter worse.
March Madness is in full swing, and so are gamblers taking their shots at hitting it big. From betting at casinos or filling out your brackets, the American Gaming Association expects the NCAA Tournament to bring in $15.5 billion in bets from 68 million Americans. That’s five times what the betting was last year.
"There's so many games. You're going from 64 teams down to one champion. It's over several weeks," said Silver Hills Hospital psychiatrist Dr. Ryan Wade.
Doctors at Silver Hill Hospital in New Canaan say they are seeing more addictive gamblers.
"It’s gotten to a point where it’s impairing their lives - not just an amount of time spent, it’s causing actual impairment, typically financially, as well as with their relationships ... straining those relationships," said Wade.
Online apps such as DraftKings and FanDuel have made betting on these games even easier and make it easier to hide the addiction.
"It starts with addressing there is an issue. We want to work on these sort of things in like a family-based therapy," said Wade.
The Connecticut Council for Problem Gambling connects people to treatment resources and says its hearing from younger gamblers. It runs a 24/7 problem gambling hotline.
"We've had calls where you know people have gambled away their tuition you know for the semester, and they're afraid to tell their parents, or their rent money," said Tarbox.
Experts say compulsive gamblers can get caught in a trap of constantly chasing their losses.
They say set a limit.
"Essentially setting a budget and sticking to it. You should essentially expect to lose whatever kind of money you are playing with," said Connecticut Council for Problem Gambling Communications Director Paul Tarbox.
The National Council on Problem Gambling says problem gambling costs the U.S. about $7 billion per year, including costs related to criminal justice and health care spending, job loss, bankruptcy and more.
Resources if you or someone you know needs help:


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