For many sporting fans, the greatest month in the sporting world is March. That’s because it is the month the NCAA Men’s College Basketball Tournament takes place. The tournament is one of the largest sporting events of the year. It represents why gambling is both fun and problematic for people. And, that is the reason why March is National Gambling Awareness Month.
Changes this Year
This is the first year March Madness has taken place since the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling on sports gambling. The High Court ruled in May 2018 that states had the right to decide for themselves whether to have sportsbooks. This ruling nullified a ban on sports betting passed by Congress in 1992. Since then, eight states have legalized sports gambling. This means gamblers in those states can go to a casino or race track and place bets on sporting events. In some states, such as Pennsylvania, people can place sports bets online.
While many gamblers hail this as a victory, other people don’t see it that way.
The NCAA Tournament is the most heavily bet on sporting event in the United States. In fact, people who don’t bet at any other time during the year bet on the tournament. Over the course of the next three weeks, there will be 149 million sports brackets filled out. Eighteen million adults are expected to wager. The wagers account for $8.5 billion waged on the three-week tournament. In fact, the tournament generates 40 percent more money wagered than the Super Bowl. This is partly because the Super Bowl is a one-day event, while the tournament is much longer. One in five Americans will watch parts of the tournament. While some Americans will fill out a bracket at work and place informal bets, others will bet in a sportsbook.
Sportsbooks are becoming more and more common. There are estimates that as many as 39 states will offer gambling on sports by 2024. This means there will only be a handful of states that don’t have sports gambling. Experts expect sports gambling revenue to reach $200 billion by 2024 as well. This means many states will benefit from sports gambling.
While the increased revenue sounds like a good thing, there are issues with gambling. Most people gamble for entertainment value and enjoy winning. However, there is a small percentage of gamblers who are addicted to gambling. For these 1 to 2 percent of gamblers, gambling is not entertainment. Instead, it is a disease. The National Council on Problem Gambling reports that March is the hardest month for gamblers. Calls, chats, and texts to national and state helplines rise more than 30 percent in March. The reason for this is the tournament is hard to avoid. Because the tournament is everywhere, it makes it very difficult for problem gamblers to avoid gambling. The National Council on Problem Gambling designated March to be Problem Gambling Awareness Month. This way, people who have a problem with gambling can get help.
There are signs to look for if people think they might have a problem with gambling. First, if a gambler finds it impossible to walk away from a game, he or she may have a problem. Problem gamblers often spend more money on gambling than they want to. In fact, they get into financial trouble because of gambling. Also, problem gamblers ignore relationships to continue to gamble. They may skip work or school. They may drink or do drugs in order to gamble for longer periods of time. Problem gamblers also have trouble setting and keeping limits. They may gamble more in times of stress. Problem gamblers may also become depressed about their gambling.
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