Indiana University Bloomington

Indiana Prevention Resource Center (IPRC)

March Madness and Sports Gambling

The NCAA basketball tournament, known as "March Madness," is a time when many people participate in illegal sports gambling through office pools and bracket selections. An estimated 2.5 billion is illegal bet annually on the NCAA men’s basketball tournament alone.  

Almost all states have had some form of legal gambling in the past 20 years, meaning most college students have always known legal gambling. In Indiana we have riverboat casinos, Hoosier lottery, charitable gaming, and racinos. Sports betting is illegal in almost all states including Indiana.

March Madness

Problem gambling among college students is almost double that of the general gambling population. Approximately 3 – 4% of college students who gamble will develop into problem gamblers.  Gambling is also a concern for college athletes. The NCAA rules clearly outline that student athletes may not place bets on sports and may not provide information to anyone who does place bets on sports. The NCAA does estimate that nearly 40% of male student athletes have gambled on sports despite these rules.

Problem gambling among college students is characterized by:

  • Gambling for long hours or with more money than intended
  • Lying to friends and family about gambling
  • Borrowing money frequently to gamble
  • Grades dropping due to preoccupation with gambling
  • Unable to stay awake in class from late nights of gambling
  • Wins and losses create mood swings
  • Gambling to escape life's hassles and stressors
  • Arguing with family and friends about your gambling
  • Using tuition, scholarship or book money to pay gambling debts
  • Increasing gambling to try to win back money lost.

If a gambler or their loved ones suspect a problem, their first step should be to call the Indiana Problem Gambling Help Line at 800-994-8448. For additional resources, visit the Indiana Problem Gambling Awareness Program at www.ipgap.indiana.edu.

By Desiree Reynolds,   3/17/2010