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Anti-gambling Groups Want A Slowdown On March Madness

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