Is your tween making a bet on March Madness?

By Seth Woolcock

March may be in the rear view mirror, but we’re still in March Madness. Auburn, Michigan State, Texas Tech and Virginia are this season’s Final Four.

Only 8,000 brackets (less than 0.05 percent) of the 17.2 million brackets created on ESPN’s website this year predicted these four teams. That’s sheer madness!

But last year the United States legalized sports gambling – nationwide. According to the website WalletHub (link) one-in-five adults in the United States will bet on the tournament. That’s about 60 million Americans. For some perspective, only 126 million Americans voted in the last presidential election!

However, only 3 percent of the $10 billion that will bet on the tournament will be legal, sanctioned bets. Most bets will be done in large, illegal betting pools, or small, informal office/fun pools. Still, it is estimated Las Vegas will make $100 million on just the March Madness tournament from betting. That’s because twice as much money is bet legally in Las Vegas on March Madness than on the Super Bowl.

How much money are the college’s making? Well, the cost of the television rights has increased 4,535 percent since 1986 and right now, Duke’s basketball coach, Mike Krzyzewski, makes about $8.9 million a year. The combined salary of Duke University’s president AND the governor of North Carolina is only $1.4 million. The University of Kentucky’s basketball program is valued at over $246 million.

And $0 is what the NCAA pays the players for participating in the tournament (though the NCAA President Mark Emmert makes $2.1 million a year.)

So, does your kid bet on the tournament? I did. I do. I started in the 6th grade. And because I’ve won my small pool a couple of times over the years, I bet more this year than ever before. Not enough to break my bank, thank God, because I did miserably this year. My bracket’s been busted for a while. But many, many kids get their first exposure to betting by filling out a bracket for March Madness.

Sure, the basketball tournament can have a positive impact on your child. It exposes them to college athletics and may inspire them to work hard at their own sport. It can also create a bonding opportunity for family and friends. Arguably it might also teach how to lose graciously. Typically, only one person can win a bracket each year, so there are lots of losers.

But, are you also teaching your kid about the dangers of betting? If not, check out our recent blog on sports gambling (link).

If you want some advice on how to talk about your kid about gambling, I recommend this link to the National Center for Responsible Gambling. (link)

And if for any reason you don’t think your child’s in any danger from gambling, read these sobering statistics (link).   Gambling by tweens/teens is only getting bigger. This is not the world you grew up in.

Here’s a listing of our links:

http://www.ncrg.org/sites/default/files/uploads/docs/ncrgtalktochildren2015hi.pdf

http://knowtheodds.org/blog/talking-child-problem-gambling/

https://wallethub.com/blog/march-madness-statistics/11016/

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