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Students discuss sports betting before March Madness

The American Gaming Association estimated that 68 million Americans placed about $15.5 billion in bets on March Madness in 2023, a five-times increase from the estimated $3.1 billion bet from 45 million Americans in 2022.

Students shared their experiences with sports betting as March Madness approaches with the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball tournament beginning March 19, followed by the women’s tournament on March 20.

Senior nursing major Nick Veloski said he plans on betting on March Madness games for the first time.

“I just play for something to watch,” he said. “I don’t put a ton of money and try to make a fortune.”

Veloski said he watches a variety of other sports such as football, baseball, hockey and NASCAR. 

“Let’s say it has piqued my interest in sports,” he said. “It just gives me another reason to enjoy, another reason to watch, but definitely makes it more stressful because you know there’s money on the line.”

Veloski said he places between three to four bets per week depending on the season as well as the sport.

“I’d rather make, you know, five $5 bets than one $20 bet,” he said.

Because of this, Veloski believes he will be betting more often for March Madness.

“I keep betting on my Cavs games, and then it’s just another thing to watch,” he said. “As long as I’m free, then I’ll definitely put [money] on that.”

As some will be betting more during March, a study released by Rutgers University found around 19% of participants showed signs of a gambling problem, with people making less than $15,000 per year being the most likely to have a gambling problem. The study also found those who gambled were more likely to use addictive substances such as drugs and alcohol.

As a nursing major, Veloski said he has firsthand experience with cases of addiction.

“When I work in a hospital, I’ve seen all kinds of different addictions and it really takes a toll on people,” he said. “I just encourage everyone to set a limit and try to only bet on what you’re rooting for.”

Senior business management major Jon Saxton said he used to sports bet before quitting in December.

“I just kept losing,” he said. “I kept taking bigger and bigger risks on the odds of my bets.”

Saxton said he won his largest bet on a parlay for Super Bowl LVII, winning around $800.

“After that, I just kept losing and losing, but the thought of winning that much money again was like, ‘Oooh, I just want to keep doing this,’” he said.

Eventually Saxton felt his losses were outweighing his wins, he said.

“I was like ‘This just isn’t even worth it, I’m losing more money than I’m getting,’” he said. “So I just stopped.”

Saxton said he only placed one bet on last year’s March Madness. 

“I put 10 bucks on Kent,” he said. “That’s pretty much it.”

Many sportsbooks offer promotions for first time customers, such as FanDuel which awards $150 in bonus bets if a first bet of at least a $5 wager hits.

After sports betting became fully legal in the state at the beginning of 2023, Ohioans bet nearly $1.1 billion during the month of January alone. Around $7.7 billion was spent on sports bets in Ohio for the 2023 calendar year, equating to $936,942,255 in taxable revenue.

Despite mainly using free bets, Saxton said he does not endorse using betting apps.

“If anybody wants to try it, I’m not your parent,” he said. “Just do whatever you want and be careful doing it.”

If you or someone you know has a gambling problem, call 1-800-662-4357.

Michael Neenan is a beat reporter. Contact him at [email protected]

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About the Contributor
Michael Neenan, General Assignment Reporter
Michael is a senior journalism major with a public relations minor. He works as a reporter, covering topics from sports to university administration. Contact him at [email protected]

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