Indiana University Bloomington

Indiana Prevention Resource Center (IPRC)

"March Madness" can lead to big problems for some individuals!

The NCAA Basketball Tournament, known around the world as “March Madness” is a time of widespread wagering. Most people see sports pools as harmless fun that bring a new level of thrill and excitement to the game, but there are risks that can lead to a serious gambling problem. While sports’ betting is illegal in every state but Nevada, adults across the country will be placing bets. From “brackets” and office pools to wagers on specific games, the NCAA Tournament is the biggest time of year for sports gambling. According to the FBI, several million Americans will illegally bet an estimated $2.4 billion on the annual NCAA Division I basketball tournament (Harrop, 2006).

March Madness

For the vast majority of people the NCAA Tournament is about collegiate basketball and fun, but for some individuals bets placed on the outcome of specific games or the tournament at-large can lead to serious financial, family, or work-related problems. There are signs to watch for that might indicate a problem, such as more frequent betting and wagering increasing amounts of money. A person with a gambling problem may also:

  • Have a preoccupation with gambling
  • Use gambling as a way to escape life’s problems
  • Attempt to recapture money they have lost in previous bets (“chasing”)
  • Lose interest in other activities (i.e. family events, work, school)
  • Lie about their losses and exaggerate wins


If you think you or someone you know may have a gambling problem, please call the Indiana Problem Gambling Referral Line at 1.800.994.8448 for a free confidential referral. The Indiana Problem Gambling Referral Line is funded by Indiana Problem Gamblers' Assistance Fund.

by Jennifer Kelley, 3/27/2008