Home Gambling Gambling Awareness: March Madness, Sports Betting Websites Raising Concerns About Player Recovery

Gambling Awareness: March Madness, Sports Betting Websites Raising Concerns About Player Recovery

CHICAGO (WLS) — March mania is upon us and analysts are expecting hundreds of millions of dollars in sports betting in Illinois alone, but March is also Problem Gambling Awareness Month.

ABC7 spoke to a recovering player about how you can seek help and what he expects as sports betting gets even easier.

Illini fans were enjoying the game on Friday before the loss.

“We’re hoping to start a little better by beating Indiana and getting off to a good start,” said Illini fan Chris Herrera.

With all basketball comes big money.

Gambling analysts at PlayIllinois.com said sports betting in January hit a new high of $870 million in wages. They expect even more in March, and new Illinois rules make it easier than ever. Sports bettors can now place sports bets online without having to first register at a casino in person.

RELATED: Illinois Sports Bettors Can Now Place Bets Online

“Now it’s really easy for everyone to sign up,” said fellow Illini fan Ruben Torres.

“Super easy,” added another fan, Steven Gray. “Wake up in the morning, check the lines, see if they change throughout the day.”

This ease of use worries some problematic former players.

“It’s a much faster path to distraction today than it was when I came in just because of this. You have so many different ways to play,” said Brian Brost of Gambler’s Anonymous.

Brost has been recovering from Gambler’s Anonymous for 24 years. He lost money, but especially his marriage of 30 years, because of his illness.

SEE ALSO: Online Sports Betting: IL Players Place $156 Per Second On Sports Betting Using DraftKings, FanDuel

“Not only did it cost me money, but it cost me a lot of different things that you can never get back,” he said.

He said the ease and ubiquity of online betting is worrying for the 2-4% of gamblers who develop a problem.

“When you’re a compulsive gambler, your life is like Groundhog Day. That’s all you do,” Brost said.

The Illinois Council on Problem Gambling said the number of calls for help is increasing.

According to the council, there were 401 players calling for help in Illinois in 2020. That figure rose to 750 last year.

RELATED: Illinois Sports Betting Law Bans Residents From Playing On State Teams For March Madness

All calls to the helpline also increased by nearly 3,000 from 2020 to last year.

“Treatment agencies tell me they are seeing an increase in the number of young adult men calling for help,” said Bill Johnson, administrator for the Illinois Council on Problem Gambling. “We’ve seen an increase in calls, but as more people are exposed to gambling, 2-4% of those exposed will increase.”

If you need help with problem gambling, there is help available. Visit the websites below or call the Game Help Hotline at 1-800-GAMBLE.

Illinois Problem Gambling Council

We know the feeling

Illinois Department of Social Services: Gambling Assistance

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