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March Madness may be fun and games, but it can be ‘life-threatening’ for some problem gamblers

As the NCAA men’s basketball tournament, popularly known as March Madness, kicks off this week, Americans around the country will be betting on the outcome of the games. But for some, gambling can become a life-threatening problem.

According to the National Council on Problem Gambling, an estimated 6 million adults in the U.S. have a gambling problem. This can cause serious financial, legal and personal consequences.

“March Madness is an especially dangerous time for problem gamblers,” said Keith Whyte, executive director of the National Council on Problem Gambling. “Because it's so popular and so many people are betting on it, it's easy to get caught up in the excitement of the event and forget about the risks of excessive gambling.”

Problem gambling can have a wide range of consequences, including relationship problems, job loss, bankruptcy and even suicide. The council estimates that approximately 2 million adults in the U.S. are considered “pathological” gamblers, meaning they are at risk of developing a severe gambling disorder.

“It's important to remember that gambling can be a lot of fun, but it can also be a serious problem for some people,” said Whyte. “It's important to be aware of the risks and know when to stop.”

The National Council on Problem Gambling offers a variety of resources for people struggling with gambling addiction, including a confidential helpline and online support groups.

“We urge anyone who is struggling with gambling to reach out for help,” said Whyte. “There is no shame in asking for help and there are a variety of resources available to those who are struggling.”

As the excitement of March Madness takes hold, it's important to remember that gambling can be risky. For some, it can even be life-threatening. It's important to be aware of the risks and know when to stop. For those struggling with gambling addiction, help is available.