Game Issues Can Spoil the Fun of March Madness |

SHREVEPORT, La. — March Madness is in full swing, less than two months after mobile sports betting went live in Louisiana on Jan. 1. 28. While it’s a fun time for many to enjoy weeks spent filling in parentheses and cheering on their favorite college hoops teams, for others it brings temptation that can be devastating to families and finances. .

According to the Louisiana Association on Compulsive Gambling, approximately $10 billion has been wagered on championship basketball games in recent years. On average, the Problem Gambling Helpline receives between 10% and 15% more calls during the month of March, which is Problem Gambling Awareness Month.

An estimated 2 million people in the United States have a gambling addiction. An estimated 4-6 million more have a gambling problem.

LACG executive director Janet Miller said that if someone talked about the game in the past as something they did for fun, but then didn’t talk about it anymore even though they did, that could signal a problem. Secrecy is a red flag, as is a loss of financial stability.

“Because a lot of times we tend to want to hide things and push others away from the issues that we have,” Miller said. “The other part I’m looking for is people who work, and work hard, and maybe work more than one job, and yet they can’t really make ends meet financially. Or they borrow, or they write checks before things are settled, or they seem to have a lot of payday loans, which are at very high interest rates.”

Miller says this can happen because people with gambling problems look for wins and losses.

“A lot of people who get addicted to the game will have the feeling of ‘I’m winning, I’m feeling hot, lucky, you know, I’m on top. And so. I will chase my earnings,” she said. “Other people are also chasing their losses. So they believe that maybe they can move on, that they can get lucky again and they will win again. So they are chasing their losses. So they are throwing more money in this dependency, it creates more problems for them financially.

Miller says the state of Louisiana is working on a prevalence study, so exact numbers are not yet available. But she says she is certain the number of people with gambling addictions will increase due to the accessibility of online and mobile sports betting.

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If you or someone you know may have a problem with the game, call or text 1-877-770-STOP, or chat online at www.helpforgambling.org.

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