Have you filled out your bracket for March Madness?

The NCAA men’s Basketball Tournament is underway, with another 16 games on tap for Friday.

Billions of dollars are bet on these contests and some Jersey residents will go overboard, and lose their mortgage money or even their life’s savings.

Neva Pryor, the executive director of the Council on Compulsive Gambling of New Jersey, pointed out that sports betting remains illegal in the state.

 

“The Council is neither for or against gambling, but we do speak out against illegal activity,” she said.

She said if you’re going to participate in betting on these games "please only use the money that you can afford to lose."

"To wager all of your money on something that’s not a great benefit to you, we caution people with that."

She noted sporting events like March Madness where there are multiple opportunities to wager is concerning. A study by Rutgers University’s Center for Gambling Studies found 6.3 percent of the New Jersey population has a problem with gambling.

"Given the fact that a person may already be predisposed, or have an addiction, we know that it’s only going to get worse during these times," she said.

So how do people know if you’ve got a gambling issue?

"When they’re betting more money than, say if they’re spending the mortgage or the car payment, or some gamblers have even used their children’s savings to bet, that’s a problem," she said.

"When they’re thinking about gambling all day long, that’s a problem. There is withdrawal, if a person can’t gamble, a lot of times they sweat or they’re preoccupied."

She also noted the National Council on Problem Gambling has found 1 in 5 gamblers will at some point attempt suicide because of their loses.

Pryor said if you think you may have a problem, or know you do, call 1-800-GAMBLER.

"If it’s a problem for you and you’re ready to get help, we’re here to help you."

You can contact reporter David Matthau at David.Matthau@townsquaremedia.com

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