Iowa college hoops fans are reminded to gamble responsibly

DES MOINES — As March Madness starts today  with the opening rounds of the NCAA basketball tournament, betting is sure to be big business, especially with six Iowa teams in the men’s and women’s contests. The Iowa Gaming Association reports Iowans wagered $233 million last March, with college hoops accounting for most of it.

Problem gambling educator Susan Sheridan Tucker says those office bracket pools can be a lot of fun.  “But we really want people to be safe and do healthy play, which means never spending more money than you can afford to lose,” Sheridan Tucker says. “We suggest to people that you set time and money limits whenever you’re gambling.”

Gamblers are no longer just betting on the outcome of games, but a wide variety of in-game opportunities. With the wide availability of sports books in Iowa, Sheridan Tucker says she has concerns about how easy it is to bet on mobile apps. “We know people are betting on sports on their phones,” she says, “and anyone who is betting on their phone currently is being directed to an offshore site which is totally unregulated and very predatory.”

Sheridan Tucker says it’s no coincidence that Problem Gambling Awareness Month and the basketball tournament are both in March.

An estimated 68-million Americans will wager more than $15 billion on the N-C-A-A tourney this year.

Anyone who thinks they may have a problem can call the Your Life Iowa hotline at 1-800-BETS-OFF.