[M]any Americans are occupied filling out their college basketball brackets and wagering billions on sports bets. Fans are gambling on which teams make it to the “Final Four,” out of a 67-game NCAA tournament.
Factor in the competitive nature of these college games, current students and alumni’s enthusiasm, and it is not difficult to see why so many Americans place bets on their favorite teams during “March Madness.”
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It is a huge industry. In fact, March Madness is the biggest sports betting event each year, second only to the Super Bowl.
Over 50 million people are expected to wager legally on this year’s tournament. Also, reports state that fans wagered between $2.6 and $26 billion in illegal bets on 2013’s tournament.
The NCAA, which launched a dedicated YouTube channel for March Madness, hopes to draw in millions of new viewers this year.
The March Madness channel will feature video recaps, live press conferences, previews, daily news, analytics and highlights, which basketball fanatics will unquestionably love.
Dr. Pamela Vincent, psychology faculty at Ashford University, offered up an evolutionary explanation for the mania behind March Madness.
“Humans have an innate drive toward competition, a leftover trait stemming from times when it was necessary to compete for food, shelter, and mates in order to survive,” explained Dr. Vincent. “Although the need to hunt for food and safety aren’t there to the same extent today (in most cases), we still enjoy that competitive spirit when it comes to things like sports.”
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[W]hat about the subconscious aspect of gambling? Why would so many people who are ordinarily responsible with their finances, make stupid decisions like betting on mascots or team colors?
“If you are competing within a small office, you may be influenced by the ‘availability heuristic,’ which suggests that we tend to overestimate our likelihood of winning,” Dr. Vincent said. “You see 30 people in your office and figure, ‘Well, somebody has to win – why not me?'”
Ironically, March is also officially Problem Gambling Awareness Month (PGAM).
Compulsive gambling is a serious health problem that should be treated like other addictions, according to Pat Fowler, Executive Director of The Florida Council on Compulsive Gambling (FCCG).
“We have to be especially vigilant about raising awareness and educating the community at large on the issue of problem gambling, because unlike any other addiction, problem gambling has no visible physical symptoms or saturation point, often resulting in heavy financial toll and devastating impacts on relationships and families,” said Fowler.
March is an ideal time to try to double up on money by betting during March Madness. However, it is also a great time to promote gambling addiction awareness, thanks to the hype created by the basketball tournament.
All 67 March Madness games will air on TBS, CBS, TNT and truTV starting on March 17. The Final Four semifinals will be televised on Saturday, April 4, on TBS. The national championship will air live on Monday, April 6, on CBS.
Now, check out these habits courtesy of The Florida Council on Compulsive Gambling, to see if you are “out-of-pocket” with the gaming.