Iowans taking advantage of first time gambling for NCAA Tournament

Published: Mar. 19, 2021 at 7:27 PM CDT
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) -This is the first March in Iowa where people can bet, legally, on the men’s college basketball tournament. We all see the ads from the various sportsbooks, and there’s a reason they’re running this month. The pandemic took out the 2020 tournament, of course.

Iowa changed the law in January so a person can sign with a sportsbook to bet on their phone and does not have to go in-person to a casino.

The Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission posted record numbers in sports wages last month, but experts want to remind people to be responsible during one of the biggest sports gambling events of the year.

Cameron Bradley isn’t at Fieldhouse just enjoying the games.

“I got some money on Colgate,” he said. “Upset city. Maybe see some drama ya know.”

He made a sports betting account online the day it became legal. He said betting gets him more into the games when the Iowa Hawkeyes aren’t playing.

“I’m only up like 50 bucks,” he said. “But like it’s pretty fun though. It makes the game more interesting.”

“The data that came in in February,” said Eric Preuss with Iowa Problem Gambling Services. “Shows that it was the biggest month so far since the legalization of sports wagering in the state of Iowa. I believe it was about 140-million dollars.”

Preuss said about 85 percent of Iowans do gamble within their means.

“You’re using your discretionary income and there’s some guidelines out there that say how much is that, well how much do you spend on entertainment on a monthly basis,” he said. “As long as you’re sticking within your budget and means, have at it, have fun, be safe.”

But they are seeing more people calling for help, so he wants people to spot the signs.

“Something’s not going right or money’s missing or you know a behavior might be off,” he said of warning signs. “Or they’re spending more time at the casino or they’re spending more time in front of their smartphone.”

The estimates within gambling are that only 3% of sports bettors actually win money in the long-term. People who may be going through a gambling problem and want help are advised to call 1-800-BETS-OFF.

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