Basketball, Brackets and Betting Tough on Gamblers

By: Dana Brueck
By: Dana Brueck

March Madness and NCAA basketball put plenty at stake for schools, players and gamblers.
Experts say 10 % to 20 % percent of people who gamble run the risk of becoming problem gamblers, and this time of year is tougher than all others.
March Madness can make the urge irresistible.
"You see it almost every place you go for entertainment," counselor Mary Beth Manning says.
Tournament basketball, brackets and betting ...
"For most people ... it's fun, it's challenging, it's a diversion," Manning says.
But Manning says sports betting is an addiction for others, and NCAA hoops represent the ultimate action.
Manning says, "it's the office pool. It's the person in the office spending time on their computer."
But the director of Wisconsin's gaming bureau for the Department of Justice says the practice is absolutely illegal.
Bob Sloey says illegal gambling consists of three things.
"Prize, which is basically you receive something of value; chance, that is the outcome of the event is determined by chance; and then consideration, you put some money up front."
Sloey doubts local police will find office picks a priority.
But, he says the higher the stakes, the better the chance of prosecution.
"Particularly when pools get huge because to have that kind of money on the street is just dangerous. Too many bad things happen," Sloey says.
Manning knows about some of those bad things.
She says, "we'll hear families come in and say what can we do because this is what's happening and we don't know what to do about this."
But, she says, knowing is a start.
"Secrecy will keep the problem alive."
Anyone running a pool or booking operation could face a felony charge, and anyone who bets could face a misdemeanor.
People seeking help for gambling addiction can call 1-800-GAMBLE-5.

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