March Madness contributing to gambling addiction

KIMT NEWS 3 – It’s time to fill out those brackets as March Madness begins. Often times these friendly wagers center around money — sometimes, lots of money.

That’s part of the reason why March has been named National Problem Gambling Awareness month.

According to the American Gaming Association, the first four days of the men’s NCAA tournament brings in some of the highest sports wagering of the year.

For some, the bracket bets are just for fun, while others take it very seriously and put a lot of money on the line.

“We know that for the people it is a problem for the activities go on long beyond when the tournaments are over,” says Problem Gambling Prevention Specialist Kelly Grunhovd.

For most people gambling is fun, but fun can sometimes lead to a serious problem. Grunhovd says there are some warning signs to watch for.

“If a person is starting to not do other types of entertainment because they are choosing to gamble most of the time,that might be a red flag. Another red flag is going to be if a person’s gambling behaviors are replacing their relationships with people so they’re actually developing a relationship with the gambling,” she says.

The good news is there is 24-7 help available for those afflicted.

“Iowa has a wonderful hotline set up.  It’s 1-800-BETSOFF.  And so in Iowa, they can call that number and they can get connected. They can either do kind of a question and answer with the people on the line to see what they can do or that person 24 hours a day can be connected with the treatment agency in their area,” Grunhovd added.

If you don’t live in Iowa you can call the national hotline 24 hours a day, that number is 1-888-BETSOFF.

You can also seek help online at: http://www.1800betsoff.org/ or http://www.888betsoff.com/.

It is the first year, an entire month is dedicated to this addiction and it doesn’t just impact the person placing the bets.

Grunhovd tells us for every gambler with a problem, 8 to 10 people in their lives are affected. Which is why it is so important that they get the help they need.

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