KIMT NEWS 3 SPORTS - March Madness is one of the busiest times of the year for sports. It also happens to be one of the busiest for sports gambling.
Eric Preuss is the Your Life Iowa project director and Problem Gambling Services manager. He says their phone line 1-800-BETS OFF receives a 30 percent increase in calls during the NCAA Tournament.
"We were very intentional in having March as 'Problem Gambling Awareness Month' because of March Madness," he said.
According to the Iowa Department of Public Health in conjuction with a study from the University of Northern Iowa, nearly 74 percent of adults in the Hawkeye State gambled in the past 12 months.
Six percent bet on sports and less than one percent of people are problem gamblers, but still make up more than 18,000 individuals.
"We want people to be safe, we want them to play responsibly," Preuss said. "If they're finding difficulties staying within their limits that they're setting themselves for their gambling, that's what 1-800-BETS OFF is for."
Gambling is as easy as it's been before with daily fantasy sports. You don't have to go to a casino to make a wager, you just need your phone.
"We've gone from having four vendors within the state on sportsbooks, that we have seven now and the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission says there are 13 more that are coming," Preuss said.
Most importantly, Preuss says, is when you need help, 1-800-BETS OFF is always available.
"No matter where you are on the slippery slope, BETS OFF is always there," he said. "Whether it's just your first experience of consequences or it's become a habitiual pattern."