Gambling on March Madness a Problem for Vulnerable Students

Next to the Super Bowl, the college basketball championship tournament known as NCAA March Madness is the biggest sports betting draw in the United States. The American Gaming Association states that the nation will wager nearly $15.5 billion on how 20-year olds (average age of an NCAA D1 player) progress through the round-robin tournament this year.

Among those laying-up big bucks with sportsbooks are college students. Incidentally, about 67% of them bet on sports, despite data showing that more than a 33% of college students don’t have enough money for food and stable housing. To sour the pot further is the fact that young adults of today are more at-risk of developing gambling disorder than generations prior.

Appropriately, the NCAA Division I basketball tournament runs concurrently with Problem Gambling Awareness Month, making for an ideal time to nip gambling on March Madness in the bud for at-risk students. If you are concerned about your own vulnerability during the tournament, please read below.

Additional call to action: Parents, coaches, educators, and peers are also encouraged to share this guide with those they feel may be vulnerable throughout this year’s (or any year) tournament.

Four Tips to Reducing Student Risk of Problem Gambling Behavior During the NCAA March Madness College Basketball Tournament

I. Take a Commercial Break

Sports betting advertising regulation has failed the young adults of America. College students are being inundated with ads to gamble during March Madness. To reduce exposure to gambling triggers, mute the TV or live-streaming feed during every single commercial break in the course of any game. Use it as an opportunity to study or tidy up your dorm room.

II. Delete Sports Betting Apps

One of the BIG reasons young adults of today are more at risk of developing problematic gambling behavior when compared to generations before, is that they are growing up in the age of legal sports betting. Access has increased exponentially as the map of U.S. states with legal sports betting grows while opportunities to make wagers are a smartphone tap away. Mobile websites and apps target the leaders of the digital transformation revolution (youth) and sports betting operators know where to reach them during March Madness.

As you read this, delete all sports betting apps (and remove website bookmarks) from your smartphones and tablets. Replace them with healthier software that blocks access to gambling apps and websites. Gamban is an option, but feel free to do your own research on the matter.

III. Avoid On-Premises Temptation

Digital access to sports betting is one thing, but temptation to bet on the tournament is high when students can join their peers to gamble at a physical location near their campus. The impulse is even higher when games are being played in one’s very own city where the respective state offers legal sports betting.

From the first- and second-round through to the Sweet 16, Elite 8, Final Four, and Championship game, this year’s tournament (2023) is being played in the following U.S. states:

  • Alabama (sports betting is not legal)
  • Iowa (legal sports betting)
  • Florida (not legal)
  • California (not legal)
  • New York (legal)
  • Ohio (legal)
  • Colorado (legal)
  • North Carolina (legal)
  • Nevada (legal)
  • Missouri (not legal)
  • Kentucky (not legal)

More than 50% of the states March Madness 2023 tournament games are being played in offer on-premises sports betting. Whether you attend college in one of these legalized states, or any state that offers sports betting, keep far away from establishments that offer gambling. Casinos with on-site sportsbooks are obvious, but also avoid sports bars as some are state-approved to host on-site gambling (as is occurring in Ohio). Moreover, if you’re watching from one of the select universities that allow sportsbooks to promote gambling in the stadium, give your ticket to someone else. 

IV. Meet with Friends AFTER the Tournament is Over

Watching March Madness with your friends and fellow students is a ton of fun, unless you’re struggling with problem gambling. If they’re among the aforementioned 67% of college students who bet on sports, more than one in your group is likely to talk about betting on the games. You may also see them make wagers from their smartphones which could further trigger your participation. Add alcohol to the mix, and your decision-making ability becomes further compromised. If you’re not comfortable telling friends and classmates about your vulnerability it’s best to keep your distance during the tournament.

Contact Kindbridge today. to learn more about problem gambling resources available for students and educational institutions.

Kindbridge - Get Started