As one in ten Americans pick their brackets in preparation for March Madness, many are unaware that they are exposing and/or enabling themselves to a very prevalent addiction (Elements Behavioral Health). It is even hard to imagine that one is participating in acts of gambling when it conveys itself in different forms. For example, in an office space if every person puts money into a lottery ticket or there are bets made when something is going to happen or what is going to become of something, it is all considered gambling. Gambling does not need a monetary value on it to be given the same rush as those that do have a cash reward or prize at the end. The key reward in an addict’s mind to gambling is the sole outcome of being able to win.
Gambling, especially sports gambling, is not seen as a prominent problem among Americans; although, it was illegal for quite some time. It is seen as more socially acceptable than most other addictions. However, gambling creates the same addictive behaviors as all other addictions. Such as inability to focus on other tasks because of preoccupation with betting, hiding or being dishonest about how much money is spent on gambling, inability to sleep because of anxiety over gambling, and/or having to borrow money to continue betting (National Council on Problem Gambling). Tim Otteman, a professor from Michigan University, stated, “…nobody becomes addicted to gambling before they make their first bet, and nobody becomes an alcoholic before their first drink, and nobody becomes a drug addict before they smoke their first joint.” (Elements Behavioral Health).
In regards to March Madness, there is no coincidence that National Gambling Month is dedicated to the month of March. The amount of money spent in the first four days of March Madness exceeds the amount of which is spent on the Super Bowl (Elements Behavioral Health). If a person is able to have their bets early on, it allows gamblers to discuss strategies and winnings with other people they are betting against (Alters). Gamblers are unaware that gambling does not end with the bet. After betting there is an entire strategic part that contributes to a person’s desire to win. The mind set begins to consume their life and it is hard for them to function without trying to get a thrill from gambling. The reality of gambling is the chances are so slim that people do not even realize what they are up against. Businessman and Billionaire, Warren Buffet set his stake higher than previous years with his offering of one billion dollars to whomever chooses the correct bracket for all of the games. Buffet’s offer for achieving all the correct brackets is a 1 in 9,223,372,036,854,775,808 chance of getting it correct (Elements Behavioral Health).
The difficulty lies for the general population to grasp gambling as an addiction since it is mainly psychological and there is no physical substance to attach to it. Society does not recognize gambling as an imminent problem because it is not doing seem to do as much damage as other addictions. However it is becoming an increasing problem to those financially, emotionally, and a burden to family members and friends, as well.
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The Dark Side of March Madness No One Talks About (Elements Behavioral Health)
March Madness and Gambling – Have the Conversation (National Council on Problem Gambling)
“Sports Gambling.” Information Plus Reference Series Spring 2005. Sandra M. Alters, et al. Vol 6: Gambling: What’s at Stake? Detroit: Gale, 2005. 99-122. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Web. 7 Mar. 2016.