Does March Madness Breed Gambling?
I Think My Kid Is Gambling
Q: Dear Carleton,
It's college basketball tournament time and I'm becoming increasingly worried about the serious gambling that seems to be going on at my son's high school and at his part-time job. How can I tell if my son is involved in gambling? I'm not sure how to approach him. And if he is gambling, is this just a "kid thing" that I shouldn't be worried about?
A: You may be picking up on some intuitive feelings that you have about your son's possible gambling. More sports betting takes place during this prolonged tournament than during any other annual sporting event, including the Super Bowl.
I believe that it would be wise for you to raise the question of your son's possible gambling with him. Begin by casually mentioning the subject: "I know there's a lot of gambling going on during this March Madness tournament. Do you and your friends bet on these games?" Avoid turning the discussion into a sermon on the evils of gambling, replete with shame and blame. Listen more than you speak and ask your son open-ended, non-judgmental questions: "How much money and how often do your friends bet on sporting events?" State your own beliefs regarding gambling.
Unfortunately, problem gambling is all too often a "kid thing" -- a risky habit that can turn very quickly into a dangerous, life-long compulsion. As a therapist, pathological gambling is one of the most difficult compulsions that I treat. If your son really is involved in gambling, intervening now is the best course of action for his future.
The Numbers Game: Gambling Stats
According to a 1998 study by Harvard Medical School and Boston Children's Hospital, published in the Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics:
According to recent studies by the National Research Council:
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