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Press Release – March Madness 2009

Hamilton, NJ – March 23, 2009 – “March Madness” is a highlight of the year for many sports fans. Many alumni and fans actively root for their team and support their preferences with a bet. Some people, however, bet beyond their means and become focused on the tournament to the exclusion of daily responsibilities. Excitement easily turns to depression, debt and desperation.

March Madness office pools attract a large number of people who have not gambled before. Donald Weinbaum, Executive Director of the Council on Compulsive Gambling of New Jersey, says “A percentage of adolescents and adults who gamble on these games will eventually get addicted to the action….the rush….the thrill of sometimes winning…and will become problem or compulsive gamblers. Without treatment, their lives will become progressively worse.” What starts as an innocent pastime can become a catalyst and gateway for other gambling and eventually devastation.

The Nevada Gaming Commission estimates legal wagering on March Madness at $80-90 million, and Nevada is the only place where sports gambling is legal. Sports gambling analyst Danny Sheridan believes that more than $7 billion is bet illegally through office pools, bets with friends, on-line betting and betting with bookies. The NCAA estimates that one in ten Americans will complete a tournament bracket.

According to The Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania, 26% of young men 14 – 22 bet monthly on sports and 10% bet weekly. Nine percent of callers to New Jersey’s 1-800-GAMBLER® helpline say sports betting is their primary form of gambling.

Many people choose to watch the NCAA tournament at work over the Internet. This clearly has a negative impact on workplace productivity.  As a result, some companies have developed policies against gambling to deal with the growing problem.

For most people, March Madness is a fun time. It does not become problematic. For a small percentage, it can initiate or accelerate a growing gambling problem.  Symptoms include lies to loved ones, betting more than you planned, and a solitary focus on the bet. Gambling is an addiction and can be treated.  If you or someone you know has a gambling problem, call 1-800-GAMBLER®. You will be referred to a Certified Compulsive Gambling Counselor and/or given information about a Gamblers Anonymous meeting in your vicinity. You owe it to yourself or your friend to do so.

For further information contact Donald Weinbaum at 609-588-5515 ext. 17 or don@800gambler.org.