March Madness & Problem Gambling [Infographic]

For many people, March Madness is a time to enjoy friendly bets with family, friends, and coworkers. However, for some it can be a catalyst for problem gambling behavior, which can have a significant impact on school, work, and relationships.

If a person currently struggles with gambling addiction or is at risk for the condition, the annual NCAA tournament can create a path toward continued or deepening gambling problems.

Problem gambling isn’t a money issue. It’s a diagnosable and treatable condition in which a person is no longer able to make reasonable choices about betting. Like other addictions, it’s been linked to changes in the brain that affect decision-making abilities.

Signs of Problem Gambling
  • You find yourself lying or acting evasively about money.
  • You neglect responsibilities, like work or school, for gambling.
  • You have mood swings that depend on whether you’re winning or losing.
  • You have arguments with family or friends about money.
  • You’ve borrowed money to gamble or to pay for necessities because you lost money betting.
  • You’ve borrowed money without permission—even though you may intend to pay it back.
  • You’ve taken money out of dedicated accounts, like retirement funds or life insurance, to gamble.
  • You delay or avoid necessary purchases, like groceries or medicine, because you’d rather use your money to place bets.

This gambling infographic from the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, Rochester Area shares facts and stats about sports betting and March Madness.


Super Bowl Gambling Predicted to Near $50 Billion in Bets – Will You Lose to Problem Gambling?

The upcoming Super Bowl is expected to generate $4.7 billion in bets, according to the American Gaming Association (AGA). The vast majority of those wagers will be illegal.

It’s estimated a whopping 97% of bets placed on the big game will take place illegally in office pools, between friends, and through offshore gambling operations, according to the AGA. Check out its Super Bowl gambling infographic:


Many people placing bets will be able to do so without harming themselves or inflicting negative consequences on friends or family. However, for some, sports betting can lead to problem gambling, a recognized condition in which a person can no longer make reasonable decisions about wagering. Gambling in at-risk people triggers some of the same brain regions as in those who abuse substances.

Problem gamblers may:

  • Gamble away paychecks;
  • Become unable to pay for living expenses, like rent, food, or prescriptions;
  • Call in sick or tardy in order to gamble;
  • Borrow, steal, or commit crimes like fraud to fund their behavior;
  • Become more vulnerable to alcohol abuse, depression, and suicide.
Don’t let sports betting bring you or a loved one down.

If wagering on the Super Bowl or other sporting events is causing anxiety or if it’s causing problems in your relationships, seek help. Gambling addiction is treatable, often with a combination of talk therapy, self-help groups, and lifestyle changes.

The Lancaster and Lebanon areas offer a number of counselors trained specifically to work with those addicted to gambling. See our list of Treatment Providers or contact Compass Mark for confidential guidance. You can also assess your risk (or that of a loved one) by taking the simple gambling assessment quiz on our home page.

To learn more about sports gambling and addiction, check out:

Tips to Resist the Urge to Gamble on the Super Bowl
Gambling Addiction: Taking the Fantasy Out of Fantasy Football
Fantasy Football: Priming Kids for Problem Gambling?


Gambling Addiction: Taking the Fantasy Out of Fantasy Football

Fantasy football players say that Draft Day is one of the most anticipated days of the year, according to a recent survey by SurveyMonkey and About 63% of the approximately 2,000 fantasy players surveyed described themselves as “big fans,” and 20% said Draft Day is the most anticipated day of their year–beating out Christmas and birthdays.

The fantasy football survey revealed other interesting statistics as well. Among people who play the game:

  • 29% spend at least an hour each week adjusting their lineups during work;
  • 65% check scores while in the bathroom;
  • 50% check scores over holiday dinners;
  • 36% check in on their teams during work meetings;
  • 33% play fantasy football to socialize with family and friends.

Fantasy football can trigger real-life consequences.

For many Americans, fantasy football is a fun way to enjoy a sport they love and connect with family and friends. For others, however, fantasy football can be a risky activity that contributes to problem gambling—a fact that may be surprising considering the game often takes place over a period of weeks and the primary payout usually comes to winners at season’s end.

In truth, any activity that stakes money on an outcome is gambling. It doesn’t matter if that money is staked on a poker game, lottery ticket, basketball tournament, or fantasy football league.

Last year, for example, The New York Times shared the story of a man with a gambling problem that spiraled out of control when he played fantasy football. The man eventually lost $20,000 on daily online fantasy sports games and additional tens of thousands on illegal sports bets.

Find gambling help in Lancaster, PA.

Are you worried that your fantasy football play is getting out of control? Are you concerned about a loved one’s betting behavior? Take the gambling risk quiz.

Let the Compass Mark team direct you to problem gambling treatment and prevention in Lancaster County, PA and Lebanon County, PA. For confidential, no-judgment guidance, call us at 717-299-2831 or fill out our Help Form.


2016 March Madness Bets Will Near $10 Billion—Is It a Gamble on Addiction?

Americans will wager an estimated $9.2 billion on March Madness in 2016, an increase from $9 billion in 2015, according to an industry association. What’s more, Americans will complete more than 70 million brackets this year—likely more than the estimated number of ballots that will be cast for any single candidate in the upcoming presidential election.

Millions of people will bet for fun in licensed gaming facilities, through wagering websites, and in office pools. But, for some, the NCAA tournament isn’t as harmless. The annual sports event has the potential to seriously impact the lives of many, including:

People at Risk for Problem Gambling

The wagering atmosphere can help nudge someone already vulnerable to gambling addiction into the condition. Learn more in Did March Madness Lead to April Sadness? Factors that boost the risk for compulsive gambling include:

  • Having current or past substance abuse;
  • Having a family history of addiction;
  • Experiencing physical, verbal, or sexual abuse;
  • Gambling for the first time at an early age;
  • Being a college student, senior, or military veteran;
  • Gambling as a way to cope with stress, anxiety, boredom, or loneliness;
  • Going through major life transitions, such as job loss, divorce, or the death of a loved one.
Gamblers in Recovery

People recovering from gambling problems can face relapse challenges during March Madness. From office pools to game-watching parties, gambling triggers might be hard to avoid. Use these strategies to help avoid relapse:

  • Make appointments to see your gambling addiction counselor regularly throughout tournament season.
  • Attend Gamblers Anonymous meetings.
  • If the games themselves trigger gambling cravings, find a healthy alternative activity during game time. For example, take a long walk, work on a house project, or enjoy a movie with a friend.
  • Excuse yourself from having lunch or break time with co-workers if you know they’ll be talking about office pools.
  • Keep resources for gambling help nearby. In Pennsylvania, call the PA Problem Gambling Helpline at 1-877-565-2112.
  • Contact Compass Mark at 717-299-2831 for Lancaster and Lebanon help resources, including prevention, education, intervention, and treatment.

Learn more about the potential risks of fantasy sports at Compass Mark’s Start the Conversation: Fantasy Sports Gamble on Wednesday, March 30, from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. This session, held at the Blair Room, 630 Janet Avenue, Lancaster, is worth 2 CEU credits.


Fantasy Football: Priming Kids for Problem Gambling?

Fantasy football is just fun-n-games for kids, right? Maybe not, according to the National Council on Problem Gambling (NCPG) and the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood. The groups recently sent letters to the NFL asking the organization to stop marketing its fantasy sports league to children because it could raise the risk of problem gambling in some youth.

The messages contend the NFL “aggressively” markets a fantasy sports game on its children’s website and smartphone app as well as through other outlets, such as the Sports Illustrated website for kids.  In addition, the game was marketed through an elementary school curriculum.

The fantasy league allows children ages 6-12 to pick a team of fantasy players and then collect points based on the athletes’ real-game performances. The two children with the highest point totals at season’s end were awarded a $5,000 check (which the NFL coined a scholarship) and a trip to the 2016 Pro Bowl in Hawaii.

According to The Associated Press reporting, the curriculum component, which was discontinued after the 2014 season, entailed a math and language arts program that required children to sign up for the NFL’s fantasy game in order to access lessons and complete assignments.

Executive Director for the NCPG, Keith Whyte, said in a statement:

“The high value of the prizes may send a message to children that playing fantasy sports is a good way to earn money for education. Even worse, it may encourage children to spend excessive amounts of time trying to win these prizes, thus planting the seeds of addiction.”

Are Kids Vulnerable to Gambling Addiction?

Yes! Adolescents and student-athletes, in particular, are at higher risk for developing gambling addiction. What’s more, research suggests the earlier a child starts gambling, the higher his or her risk for developing compulsive gambling later in life.

Concerned adults, including parents, caregivers, educators, and youth ministers, often try to direct children toward healthier choices regarding risky activities, like smoking, sex, alcohol, and other drugs. Likewise, we have a responsibility to help youth understand the potential risks of gambling and how it can impact their lives financially, emotionally, and even physically. Learn more in Gambling Addiction and Kids and How to Prevent Teen Gambling.

To find gambling education resources for your family, school, or organization in Lancaster, PA or Lebanon, PA, contact Compass Mark at 717-299-2831.


Tips to Resist the Urge to Gamble on the Super Bowl

Americans will wager an estimated $4.2 billion on the upcoming Super Bowl, according to a casino trade group. About 3% of those bets will be placed legally in casinos, while the remaining will occur in homes and workplaces or through sports betting sites and unlicensed bookmakers.

And there’s no question: betting on sports is a gamble—gaming board figures suggest legal sports wagers offer among the lowest winning percentages among gambling activities. For example, sports gamblers win 5.8% of the time, compared with 6.4% of slots players.

Tips to Resist Sports Betting

Wagering on any single sports event doesn’t necessarily indicate a person has a gambling problem. Millions of Americans will be able to bet for fun on everything from the coin toss winner to the final score.

For some, however, betting on the game is part of a pattern of unhealthy gambling behavior. What’s more, the social atmosphere surrounding the event can present challenges for those with problem gambling. If you or a loved one has gambling problems, events like the Super Bowl can trigger the urge to bet. Some gamblers may choose to avoid watching the game; however, if you want to take part in the festivities, here are tips to help you make healthier decisions:

  • Avoid participating in pools at the office and social clubs.
  • Avoid alcohol if you’re attending game parties—it lowers inhibitions and makes it harder for you to resist gambling cravings.
  • Attend a Gamblers Anonymous meeting in Lancaster or Lebanon.
  • See your therapist. If you don’t currently have a plan to treat your problem gambling, consider consulting one of these Lancaster or Lebanon treatment providers.

Check out 6 Red Flags for Gamblers: When Is It Too Much?, or take the simple quiz on our home page to learn whether you’re at risk for compulsive gambling.

For 50 years, Compass Mark has given individuals and families the tools needed to overcome addiction. Let us help you. For additional problem gambling resources, including non-judgmental addiction referral information, call our team at 717-299-2831.


Do Fantasy Sports Lead to Real-Life Consequences for You?

About 41 million people in the U.S. and Canada played fantasy sports in 2014, spending an average of nearly 9 hours each week on the activity, according to the Fantasy Sports Trade Association.

Most people who participate in fantasy sports are able to play for fun—and it will never negatively impact their lives. However, for some, particularly those already at risk for problem gambling, it may provide one more avenue to unhealthy gambling behavior.

While it’s not technically considered gambling, there are gambling-type elements to fantasy sports. For example, numerous leagues offer cash payouts for wins and require entry fees to buy into play. (Fees alone for fantasy sports leagues will generate an estimated $18 billion by 2020.)

To find out if you or a loved one is at risk for developing gambling addiction, take the quiz on our home page. Contact Compass Mark through our online help form or call (717) 299-2831 for free, confidential problem gambling treatment referral in Lancaster, PA and Lebanon, PA.

Check out the industry infographic below for more statistics on the popularity of fantasy sports.


The Problem Gambling-Golf Connection [Study]

Excitement is building in Lancaster, PA for the arrival of the LPGA U.S. Women’s Open. The annual tournament, which will be held July 9-12, is expected to attract 75,000 to 100,000 spectators and generate everything from traffic troubles to tourist dollars. It’s likely to generate more than a few bets, too.

When we think about betting and sports, many of us are probably inclined to imagine football pools or March Madness brackets. Golf isn’t something we usually envision. Yet unhealthy gambling behavior may be a problem in the sport, particularly in college, according to a study from the NCAA.

The study, which surveyed about 23,000 student-athletes, found that 20% of collegiate male golfers reported gambling on sports during the previous month–a rate more than double that of non-golf athletes. The NCAA study also revealed:

  • 12% of the golf players had played cards for money in the previous month, compared to 6% of non-golf male athletes;
  • 36% of student-athlete golfers had wagered on games of personal skill during the previous month, compared to 9% of non-golf male athletes.
Why Gambling & Golf?

While problematic gambling impacts athletes across many sports, some believe gambling may be a norm in the golfing community. “It’s the culture within that sport. In any country club in America, you can go see that type of activity going on,” said Mark Strothkamp, the NCAA’s associate director of enforcement on sports gambling issues, in an interview with USA Today.

It’s important to note that many factors play a role in the development of unhealthy gambling behavior. However, the NCAA’s findings suggest the connection between addictive gambling and golf is worth consideration and, perhaps, further study.

Problem Gambling Symptoms
  • Increasing preoccupation with gambling (or increasing preoccupation with sports, in those with sports betting problems);
  • Withdrawing from family, friends, and responsibilities;
  • Lying or becoming evasive about time or money spent gambling;
  • Experiencing mood swings based on wins or losses;
  • Exhibiting personality changes, such as irritability, restlessness, or anxiety;
  • Tapping into dedicated financial accounts, like school funds, to gamble;
  • Stealing or committing other illegal acts to support gambling behavior.

If you’re worried about yourself or a loved one, take the quiz on our home page to learn more. For additional information about addiction resources or for non-judgmental guidance, contact Compass Mark at 717-299-2831 or fill out the simple Gambling Addiction Help Form.


March Madness- Potential Gateway to Problem Gambling?

That excitement you sense in the air may not be from the arrival of warmer weather…it may be coming from fans preparing for the annual NCAA basketball tournament. Many people who fill out a bracket in the coming weeks will wager responsibly. For others, March Madness betting is a potential gateway to problem gambling.

On the surface, that might sound like a big leap. However, according to Tim Otteman, a sports-related gambling expert from Central Michigan University, that’s exactly what can happen. He said:

“No one becomes an alcoholic before they have their first drink, and no one becomes a drug addict before they smoke their first joint. Similarly, no one becomes addicted to gambling on sports before they make their first bet—and frequently the first bet is filling out a bracket for the NCAA tournament.” (Science Daily)

Gambling becomes a problem any time wagering behavior has a negative impact on the gambler and those around him or her. Warning signs of gambling addiction include:

  • Increasing preoccupation with gambling
  • Taking the lead frequently to organize office pools or arrange bets among friends
  • Neglecting school or work to gamble
  • Experiencing mood swings based on outcomes: joyful when winning, depressed when losing
  • Becoming secretive about gambling frequency
  • Minimizing computer windows or changing smartphone screens when someone else enters the room
  • Continuing to bet after the money is gone
  • Cashing out education or retirement accounts to gamble
  • Pawning or selling possessions or valuables
  • Making unsuccessful attempts to stop gambling

As with substances, like alcohol and other drugs, addiction to gambling changes how the brain makes decisions. A compulsive gambler is no longer able to control their behavior. People struggling with this addiction are also more vulnerable to other conditions, such as substance abuse, clinical depression, and suicide. (Learn more in 2 Ways Problem Gambling Can Trigger Suicide.)

How is problem gambling treated?

A therapist or counselor licensed to work with problem gambling will develop a treatment plan based on your unique needs. The foundation for treatment is typically talk therapy. This helps you identify the negative emotions (like stress or loneliness) that often contribute to its development.

The therapist will also help reframe your thought patterns so you’re able to view gambling in a new way. For example, some gamblers believe that having knowledge of player or team stats makes it more likely he or she will win when betting on sports. In fact, research suggests that knowledge of a sport has little impact on gambling success. Problem gambling therapy will focus on changing false beliefs so you can make healthier decisions.

Let Compass Mark guide you to the Lancaster, PA and Lebanon, PA gambling addiction resources you need. Call (717) 299-2831 or use the online help form for confidential, judgment-free guidance.

Learn more in:

Gambling Popular Among Male College Student-Athletes [Survey]

Self-Help Groups for Problem Gambling- FAQs