Mar. 16, 2007 The 2007 NCAA men’s basketball tournament is now underway, and people across the nation are frantically checking scores and updating the status of their tournament brackets. Central Michigan University faculty member Tim Otteman, a leading authority on sports-related gambling, has a few initial thoughts on sports gambling trends, particularly as they relate to so-called “March Madness.”
Regarding the popularity of sports gambling:
“Sports gambling has truly replaced baseball as America’s pastime. From buying Super Bowl squares to filling out NCAA tournament brackets to betting on the Internet to gambling directly with a bookmaker, sports gambling is one of the most popular sports participation activities in the U.S. The NCAA estimates that one in 10 Americans will complete a bracket for the NCAA tournament.”
Regarding problem gambling:
“While completing a tournament bracket for $5 or $10 seems to be a harmless activity, in reality it potentially starts the slippery slope toward gambling addiction. No one becomes an alcoholic before they have their first drink, and no one becomes a drug addict before they smoke their first joint. Similarly, no one becomes addicted to gambling on sports before they make their first bet — and frequently the first bet is filling out a bracket for the NCAA tournament.”
Regarding college students and gambling:
“Numerous studies indicate that college students are two to four times more likely to become pathological gamblers than the general adult population. Combine that with the tremendous amount of information available about the games via the Internet, the 50/50 odds on predicting a winner with the point spread, the popularity of college athletics, the competitive spirit of former interscholastic athletes and the disposable time a college student enjoys, and you have the perfect recipe for involvement in sports gambling.”
Otteman is an authority in sport administration and management, sports sociology, and sports gambling.
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