The manager of the Iowa Gambling Treatment and Prevention Program warns, for many people, placing a few small bets on the NCAA Basketball Tournament can lead to gambling addiction.
March is designated as National Problem Gambling Awareness Month. Eric Preuss says up to two-percent of the state’s adult population — or roughly 43,000 Iowans — have a gambling disorder.
“We also know that 16-percent, approximately 369,000 Iowans, are at risk for developing a gambling disorder — meaning they’ve experienced in the past year at least one sign or symptom of a gambling disorder,” Preuss said. People with a gambling disorder can impact a lot of lives, according to Preuss. “Although the percentage of Iowans with an actual gambling disorder is relatively low, almost one in five adult Iowans, around 18-percent, have said they are negatively or have been negatively affected by the gambling behavior of someone they know,” Preuss said.
The Iowa Department of Public Health offers services to counter problem gambling — primarily through the 1-800-BETS-OFF hotline and the website: www.1800BETSOFF.org “The department funds 10 problem gambling treatment programs that cover all 99 counties in the state of Iowa,” Preuss said. “Over 600 Iowans receive help each year with treatment services.”
March was selected as National Problem Gambling Awareness Month because of the NCAA Basketball Tournament. The FBI estimates that more than $2.5 billion is wagered illegally each year on “March Madness.”