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Indiana Prevention Resource Center (IPRC)

March Madness: National Problem Gambling Awareness Week

When you think of March and gambling, chances are you think of "March Madness" the NCAA basketball tournament which is a mega sporting event for gamblers not National Problem Gambling Awareness Week. Both of these events occur in March and have significance for our state. This year National Problem Gambling Awareness Week is being held March 6th - 13th.  One event being held in Bloomington on March 7th is raising awareness around college student gambling.

March Madness

The Federal Bureau of Investigation estimates that 2.5 billion is illegally bet annually on the NCAA basketball tournament. College students today, in most states, have always known legal gambling in some form. In Indiana there are casinos, racinos, Hoosier Lottery, and charitable gambling. Gambling is more culturally accepted now than in any previous generation. Over the past 10 years, sports betting among college students has increased, even though it is illegal in almost all states including Indiana. Research indicates that approximately 42% of college students gamble on a yearly basis.

Gambling by college students is not without risk. Studies show that problem gambling among college students is almost double the rates of the general population. An estimated 3 - 4% of college student gamblers develop into problem gamblers.

Of particular concern are internet wagers and the risks for students. Internet gambling is illegal in the United States, yet there are still over 2,000 online gambling websites available on the internet. In 2006, over $15 billion was spent worldwide on internet gambling sites.  Gambling online can be accessed just about anywhere at any time. Easy access to credit cards allow college students to gamble regardless of the amount of cash they have and they can continue to gamble even if they will not have the money to pay the credit card bills.

Gambling can be particularly concerning for college athletes who are already competitive. The NCAA rules outline that student athletes may not place any bets of any sort on college or professional sports and that no information may be provided to anyone who does place bets on college or professional sports. It is estimated that over 40% of male student athletes gamble on sports and over 70% of student athletes have gambled since entering college.

"Most people and students can gamble responsibly and not develop problems. For those that do develop problems, the results can include financial ruin, depression, crime, increased substance use, and even suicide."  According to Mary Lay, Research Associate and Project Manager of the Indiana Problem Gambling Awareness Program.

As part of National Problem Gambling Awareness week on March 7th, on the campus of Indiana University Bloomington, the Office of Alternative Screening and Intervention Services partnering with Amethyst House Addictions Services are holding a gambling forum from 4:30 to 6:30 pm, in the Maple Room of the Indiana Memorial Union.  The forum will consist of a diverse panel, including Dr. George McClellan, Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs at Indiana University - Fort Wayne, and invested community members.  Other panelists include a representative from NCAA, and two members of the Gamblers Anonymous community.

Many more events are going on around the state to increase awareness around problem gambling. For more information or for the entire list, please go to www.ipgap.indiana.edu and click on events.  If you or someone you know might have a problem gambling, treatment is available and it works. Please call 1-800-994-8448.

By Desiree Reynolds,   3/3/2011