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March Madness bracket could be the first step toward a 'slippery slope'

Gambling puts more at stake than money, says CMU professor

Contact: Dan Digmann

​Little did Central Michigan University professor Tim Otteman expect that his personal experience with sports gambling in college would make him a national expert on the topic.

Otteman was raised in a family where gambling was prevalent and participated in betting on sports throughout his undergraduate career. He shares his experience openly in hopes of helping others avoid what he calls a "slippery slope."

According to Otteman:

  • "The NCAA projects one in ten Americans will fill out a tournament bracket. While March Madness seems like a harmless way to participate in and enjoy one of the nation's greatest sporting events, in reality it may be the beginning of a slippery slope toward a major gambling problem or addiction."
  • "College students are two and a half times more likely to have a gambling problem than the adult population. If you consider young adults on a campus with access to sports, technology to research odds, competitive spirit, exploration with risk taking behaviors and the ease in which they can participate in a bracket pool — you can see why national estimates place annual illegal sports gambling at $80 to $380 billion."
  • "Not every person who bets on sports ends up with a gambling problem or addiction. But every addicted sports gambler started with a first bet — most often that first sports bet is filling out an NCAA tournament bracket or buying a Super Bowl square."

"I was fortunate to be able to end my sports gambling before anyone got hurt. Unfortunately, I have a lot of friends that faced negative consequences such as damaged relationships, academic problems and other illegal activity because of their addiction."

Otteman is available to share his expertise, insight and personal story with reporters.

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