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Paul Nelson, KSL Newsradio Anti-gambling groups are asking companies to take it easy during March Madness. Some researchers say companies could make someone who is addicted to gambling relapse.
Let's face it. Very few of us actually do really well with our NCAA college basketball brackets. David Letterman must have really taken a pounding this year. "My prediction, in the final it will be Butler University and Weber State," Letterman said.
Of course, Letterman was kidding. After all, UCLA is a lock this Saturday. But, even if I really believed that, some people say you should not bet on them to make the final. In fact, they are saying you should not bet at all. Institute of Change Operations Director Frank Roberts said, "I don't think there would ever be a ‘sure thing.' There's still an element of risk, there."
Roberts says just the act of participating in a tournament bracket won't turn you into a problem gambler. But, anti-gambling groups are asking companies not to take that chance. "It's the illusion of control that's operating in the brain," Roberts said.
A new study by Bensinger, Dupont & Associates says more people look for help to stop their sports gambling during March and April, at the height of March Madness. Roberts says he's treated many clients for gambling addiction, and they all say it started with something small, even by an office pool. "Yeah, it can be even smaller than that. One's own triggers are kind of unique to themselves," Roberts told KSL Newsradio.
There are other risks to the companies involved. Researchers say companies can be sued by employees for any financial losses if the company started the betting pool. Also, the BDA survey says productivity goes down, and 10 percent of workers have called in sick to see a sporting event. Plus, they say betters are more likely to borrow money from their coworkers. Roberts says gamblers think they'll be able to pay of their debts after they win. "It's not going to work, but, yet, the person of addiction continues to be in what we call denial, or uses defense mechanisms to continue to convince themselves that, ‘I can make it work,'" Roberts said.
In fact, Roberts says one of the worst things that could happen to a gambling addict is to win. "The winning would perpetuate the denial and defense mechanisms that one is using," Roberts said.
Roberts says the cases of someone becoming addicted to gambling are relatively rare, and usually someone is only triggered by March Madness if they're already at risk. However, the National Council on Problem Gambling says four million to eight million people could be considered problem gamblers every year, and two million can be classified as pathological gamblers.