March Madness brings concerns about problem gambling among college students Rege Behe, CDC Gaming Reports · March 24, 2021 at 4:06 pm There are now 21 states, along with the District of Columbia, where bettors can wager on everything from which teams are going to make the NBA playoffs to who is going to hit the first home run when MLB’s season starts April 1. March Madness also is in full swing, with the Sweet 16 teams playing this weekend in the NCAA Basketball Tournament. And that event – which saw gamblers bet $8.5 billion in 2019, with one in five adults in the U.S. placing wagers – concerns the National Council on Problem Gambling, especially when it comes to college students. “March Madness has more people betting on sports than any other sporting event,” said Keith Whyte, executive director of NCPG. “Most importantly, college-age people spend an inordinate amount of time online, and with online sports betting spreading across the country the access creates more opportunity to gamble.” The NCPG recently released a set of recommendations that address agreements that have been struck between universities and gambling operators. Points Bet and the University of Colorado, and William Hill US and the University of Las Vegas, Nevada, have agreements that allow the universities to tap into new and lucrative revenue streams. NPCG’s guidelines include providing dedicated funds to prevent and treat gambling addiction; comprehensive employee training on responsible gambling; and a ban on incentives, especially monetary incentives, to colleges based on sign-ups, registrations, gambling participation, revenue, handle, or profits. Whyte also cited concerns about Action Network, which recently advertised for college brand ambassadors on campuses to promote the sports media network that focuses on gambling. “If a gambling site is getting referrals from Action, they need to take extra steps to ensure underage college kids aren’t sneaking onto their platform,” Whyte said. Whyte believes that colleges should treat problem gambling in the same way that drug or alcohol addictions are addressed. Gambling sites should perform excellent KYC (know your customer) on their customers, especially if sites or affiliates are marketing on campuses. Regulators should ensure that operators and affiliates understand that significant penalties will result if age rules are breached. And operators need to “reckon with the consequences” of using daily fantasy, prediction contests, and other marketing/customer acquisition tools with no age limits as possible gateways to gambling for children. Professional sports teams and leagues that align themselves with gambling operators also “have enormous responsibility,” Whyte said.” It is very important that any partnership between sports teams and sports leagues with sports betting operators include responsible gambling measures in terms of marketing and safeguards for how people play.” Rege Behe is lead contributor to CDC Gaming Reports. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please follow @RegeBehe_exPTR on Twitter.