Bracket Buster: Sports betting prevention tips for March Madness

Monday, March 18, 2024 Bracket Buster: Sports betting prevention tips for March Madness

[image by priscilla-du-preez]

by Jon Gayer, assistant director for alcohol and drug education,

The excitement is palpable with both the Nebraska men's and women's teams in the NCAA March Madness college basketball championship tournaments.

Yet amidst the thrill, it's crucial to acknowledge the potential impact of problem gambling on students during the Huskers' journey.

Next to the Super Bowl, the NCAA March Madness stands as the most significant sports betting event in the United States. The American Gaming Association predicts a staggering $15.5 billion in wagers, emphasizing the magnitude of this spectacle (Kindbridge Behavioral Health 2023).

College students contribute substantially to this betting frenzy, with approximately 67% engaging in sports betting, despite more than 33% facing financial struggles for essentials like food and stable housing (National Council on Problem Gambling).

Adding to the concern is the increased vulnerability of today's young adults to gambling disorders, attributed to unprecedented accessibility. Students now gamble through sleeper apps, utilizing "tokens" and converting them into cash, all without the need for legal age verification.

While the ultimate solution to avoid gambling-related problems is to abstain, for those who choose to engage, here are a few prevention gambling tips:

  1. Non-Monetary Wagers:  Instead of betting money, consider non-monetary outcomes with friends. Wager a barbecue dinner, a fake trophy, or tickets to a movie, fostering friendly competition without financial risk.
  2. Maintain Balance:  According to the University of Colorado, ensuring that gambling doesn't dominate your activities is crucial. Incorporate other hobbies, exercise, or recreational activities to maintain a healthy balance. Delete gambling apps from your phone to deliberate before heading to a casino and consider removing autofill details to add an extra layer of decision-making.
  3. Set Limits:  Establish limits on when, how long, and how much you bet. Restricting gambling to specific time. days or games prevents daily indulgence and promotes responsible behavior.
  4. Emotional Stability:  Never gamble when emotionally charged. High-stress situations can lead to impulsive decisions and increased risk-taking.
  5. Avoid Substance Influence:  Never mix alcohol or drugs with gambling. Intoxication can impair judgment, leading to increased spending and higher-risk behaviors. Combining these substances may amplify impulsive decisions, negatively impacting both financial choices and overall well-being. It's crucial to maintain sobriety when engaging in any form of gambling to make informed and responsible decisions.

If you find yourself struggling with problem gambling, consider confiding in your friends. While it may be challenging, a supportive friend can prevent relapses and offer alternative activities that don't trigger gambling tendencies. Friends often play a crucial role in aiding recovery (Kindbridge, 2022).

If you’re worried you may be developing a gambling problem (or know someone who has), connect with Justin Antons, a specialist with the Nebraska Problem Gamblers Assistance Helpline by calling 1-833-BetOver (238-6837) or texting 402-806-7344. Many people call Justin to just talk it out and get more information. All help is free of charge.