The Minnesota Alliance on Problem Gambling is raising awareness about gambling addiction, as it predicts nearly $10 billion in both legal and illegal bets to be placed during this year’s NCAA Men’s Basketball March Madness.
Warning signs of problem gambling include betting more than you can afford to lose, bragging about your wins but never the losses, lying about the amount you’re betting, and spending long periods of time gambling or betting more frequently.
With a majority of people making brackets and bets online, it’s easier to develop these harmful habits.
“The electronic accessibility makes it easier, it also makes it easier for someone to isolate. You can now sit in your home on your phone and nobody knows,” says MNAPG Executive Director Susan Sheridan Tucker. “It’s not that we’re against gambling, we just want it to be safe for all players.”
Some precautions to take when it comes to gambling include setting a time limit, setting a spending limit, checking in with how you feel, and being honest with yourself.
Problem Gambling Awareness Month is also about raising awareness about for resources available to those who do need help with problem gambling.
“There’s a variety of ways that people can approach recovery. For some, it means total abstinence, that’s the way in which it’s going to be helpful for them. For others, it may be just adjusting, that they pull back, take a break,” says Tucker.
Legislation needs to include increases in treatment, prevention and research funding to match the proposed expansion of gambling rights.
By Susan Sheridan Tucker
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March Madness is well underway, and with it a deluge of gambling that propels the tournament. It’s estimated that 1 in 5 Americans will place bets on this year’s NCAA basketball tournament, which creates a hazardous environment for anyone susceptible to problem gambling.
Though most Americans can gamble for enjoyment without issue, the issue of gambling addiction is one that’s gone woefully unaddressed by state and federal addiction programs. It is a fact that gambling addiction produces the highest rate of suicide among addictions, making it a very real public health issue.
As Minnesota lawmakers consider passing a bill that would legalize sports betting, it’s more imperative than ever that the legislation includes increases in treatment, prevention and research funding to match the proposed expansion of gambling rights. It is the mission of the Minnesota Alliance on Problem Gambling (MNAPG) to raise awareness of gambling addiction and advocate for more safeguards around gambling to ensure consumers are protected and able to access resources for treatment and prevention.
It’s no coincidence that March is Problem Gambling Awareness Month. All over the country, organizations like ours make special efforts throughout the month to get the word out that problem gambling is a legitimate addiction defined in the latest edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5).
Though MNAPG remains neutral on legalization, we stand for the prioritization of consumer protection over revenue. We’ve worked alongside several lawmakers involved in crafting the proposed legislation, which includes a lot of promising language around the following:
Funding: Directing 40% of sports betting tax revenue toward problem gambling programs.
Age restrictions: The promise to raise the legal betting age to 21 will help to prevent high school students from accessing regulated gambling sites on their phones.
Education: Prevention messaging to students, and especially young athletes, will provide a foundational understanding of the harms that can occur with gambling and where one can turn for help. Gambling prevention education is still absent from middle school and high school curricula.
Meanwhile, there are key pieces missing from the current legislation that would be critical to include. They include:
Rule making: MNAPG would prefer to see more specific language built into the bill and will actively participate in the rule-making process to include specific practices requiring operators to build responsible gaming programs. These programs should include comprehensive employee training, access to self-exclusion programs, ability to set limits on time and money spent on betting, and specific requirements for the inclusion of help/prevention messages in external marketing.
Research: There are currently no federal dollars to fund gambling disorder research. Each state must decide whether to support such efforts. MNAPG believes there should be funding for regularly scheduled studies to monitor the impacts of gambling on players and support for using the data to develop evidence-based mitigation efforts. We don’t seek individual data, but would make aggregate data on players’ behaviors and experiences available to universities and nonprofit research entities. Without access to such data, the hands of those who work in the prevention and treatment fields are tied.
No one chooses to become addicted to anything — it’s never due to a moral failing or a lack of willpower. Gambling addiction is just as serious as an alcohol or drug addiction and deserves to be treated equitably, with an appropriate level of funding for treatment, prevention, research and training.
Susan Sheridan Tucker is the executive director of the Minnesota Alliance on Problem Gambling.
It’s been four years since the Supreme Court of the United States legalized sports gambling in 2018. Since then, 35 states and Washington D.C. have made sports betting legal for their residents and all who visit.
Betting online has also evolved. If you live in a state where sports betting is legal, you can download a variety of betting apps to get in the game.
If you don’t know how or where to start, it’s likely an advertisement will tell you: Sports gambling ads are rampant in states where it’s legalized. The ads are often celebrity endorsed, make betting look easy and entice people with the possibility of winning a large amount of money.
Sports gambling is not legal in Minnesota, but that might change with a bill in the Minnesota Legislature aimed at legalizing sports betting. A Minnesota poll last year also found that 48 percent of Minnesotans are in favor of legalized sports gambling.
As support for Minnesotans to wager on sports grows, so does the normalization of gambling across the country.
Guest host Chris Farrell talks about the rapid growth of sports betting, the mental health risks for young adults and how sports gambling can quickly spiral into addiction.
For information on problem gambling, or if you need to seek help, you can call 800-333-HOPE or visit GetGamblingHelp.com.
With sports betting consuming our airwaves, it may be helpful for treatment providers to be familiar with sports betting jargon. Here are some common terms used in sports gambling.
Action – A bet or wager.
Against the spread – The result of a game including the point spread.
Bad beat – A bet that looks like the bettor is going to win but doesn’t.
Book (Sportsbook) – A place where someone can bet on the outcome of sporting events.
Buck – A $100 bet.
Chalk – The favorite in a game.
Consensus – Percentage of the betting public on each side of a game. Some bettors will bet against the “public money” (whichever team more bettors have placed their bets on).
Cover – The betting outcome on a point spread bet. For a favorite to cover, it must win by a number higher than the spread. An underdog can cover by losing by a number less than the spread or by winning the game outright.
Dime – A $1,000 bet.
Dollar – A $100 bet.
Edge – The advantage a bettor has before a bet is placed.
Even (even money) – A $100 bet to win $100.
Favorite – A team favored to win a game.
Future bets – A bet on events that will happen further in the future, like who will win a division or who will win a championship well in advance.
Handle – The total amount of money wagered on a game.
Handicapping – Researching sports statistics to pick winners.
Hedging – Betting opposite of a previous bet to guarantee winning at least a small amount of money.
Hook – A half-point in the spread.
In-game wagers – Bets made after a game has started.
Juice – A commission books win on each bet.
Limit – The maximum allowed wager on a single bet.
Lock – A large favorite.
Long shot – A large underdog.
Moneyline bet – A bet made if a team will win or lose outright with no point spread.
Nickel – A $500 bet.
No action – A game that is no longer taking bets and all wagers are refunded.
Oddsmaker (linemaker) – Someone who sets the opening line on a game.
Off the board – A game bettors cannot wager on.
Over – The combined score of two teams is more than what the sportsbook set.
Parlay – A bet that combines multiple games for a higher payout. The more games, the higher the risk but the greater the payout. In order for the parlay to win, each game must win or push (tie). If any of the games lose, the entire wager loses.
Pick’em – A game with no favorite or underdog.
Point spread – Margin of victory set by oddsmakers to attract bets action on both the favorite and the underdog. A favorite must win by a number higher than the point spread to cover the spread. An underdog can cover by losing by a number less than the spread or by winning the game outright.
Puckline – Hockey has a point spread of -1.5 for the favorite and +1.5 for the underdog.
Proposition bets (prop) – A bet on anything that is not directly tied to the outcome of the game. For example, it can be the first team or the first player to score in a game.
Push – When neither team covers the spread (the actual margin of victory lands exactly on the spread), no one wins the bet and all wagers are refunded.
Runline – Baseball has a point spread of -1.5 for the favorite and +1.5 for the underdog.
Sharp (wiseguy) – A professional sports bettor.
Steam – A quick change on a line due to heavy wagering.
Taking the points – Betting an underdog against the spread.
Teaser – Similar to spreads, teasers are favored towards the bettor but have a lower payout.
Total bet (over/under) – A bet on the combined number of points scored by both teams in a game, including overtime/extra innings.
Under – The combined score of two teams is less than what the sportsbook set.
Underdog (dog) – A team not favored to win a game.
The Super Bowl and March Madness, which take place in February and (primarily) March, respectively, are the most popular sports betting events in the U.S. With the legalization of sports gambling in many states, both events experienced record wagers. Here’s a snapshot of each event.
Super Bowl LVI
Information about betting activity for the Super Bowl is not yet complete, but it’s clear that wagering beat out the previous record from 2021. According to legalsportsreport.com, as of April 4, 14 states reported a combined $588.1 million in handle (amount of money wagered) and $45.9 million in revenue. This compares to $486.5 million in handle and $43 million in revenue from 17 legal jurisdictions in 2021. Notably, even states with neighboring states that legalized sports gambling since last year saw a considerable year-to-year increase.
NCAA Basketball Tournament
The NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament received more betting action than ever before. According to SportsHandle.com, prior to the Final Four games, 31 percent of Americans aged 21 to 64 placed bets on tournament games, with about two in three saying they bet more this year than on any previous tournaments.
In January, Minnesota’s Louie Anderson, a nationally beloved comedian, died. His death was felt in comedy circles as well as among Minnesotans who took pride in a local boy making it big.
As with all of us, however, he had his human frailties. He also made an impact on the recovery and addiction community, where he was known for his candid stories about growing up with an abusive, alcoholic father, but he also had a gambling problem.
In a 2016 interview, < link to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hTMWugFklMo> when Louie was in the thick of his gambling addiction, he shared the story of a night when he lost $80,000 in Los Angeles, then drove to Las Vegas and won $100,000 in the middle of the night, making it back to Los Angeles in time to film a television commercial the very next morning. The interviewers seem more entertained by the story than interested in exploring his gambling addiction.
Depending on the news outlet, Louie was either a big-time, revered gambler —or he had a gambling problem. Indeed, the perceptions of gambling based on celebrity behavior can be deceiving.
Stories of celebrity gambling can normalize, if not trivialize, how destructive the activity can be. While the wealth amassed by many celebrities can appear to minimize the magnitude of their gambling, it’s clear that gambling can — and has — become a problem for some. Indeed, we know that gambling addiction is an equal opportunity employer and can affect virtually anyone – men or women, young or old, and those from every religion, race and socio-economic background. Sadly, that includes celebrities.
Section from Season of Sports Betting
Other notable findings detailed by SportsHandle.com, which were based on data from an online study conducted by National Research Group, included the following:
Thirty-nine percent of bettors reported that they wagered a total of at least $250. (Sixty-three percent reported betting at least $100.)
Sixty percent of people who bet on this year’s NCAA tournament did not fill out the traditional bracket.
Fifty-four percent of bettors said that legalized online sports betting has made them less interested in brackets.
Sixty-five percent said that the amount they wagered this year has been the most they’ve ever bet on an NCAA tournament.
Six percent of bettors wagered more than $1,000 while sixteen percent wagered between $500 and $999.
The majority of bettors (63 percent) bet on between three and 10 games.
Fifty-four percent placed a wager on the first round, with declining percentages betting on succeeding rounds.
Thirty-nine percent made moneyline bets (straight bets on winners and losers) while twenty-five percent wagered on same-game parlays (multiple bets or “legs” of a game).
While the SportsHandle.com article was published prior to the Final Four weekend, betting on the last three games was expected to be quite heavy, as the four teams comprising the Final Four were among the most heavily bet in the tournament.