Did you know that according to the National Council on Problem Gambling, nearly 67% of all college students bet on sports?* This figure doesn’t even include those who also bet on the lottery, card games, mobile games or casinos.

If you choose to bet during March Madness, here are some tips, strategies and resources to help you avoid risky behaviors and get help if needed.

1. Evaluate your habits

Gambling is not inherently wrong or bad. However, it is important to remember that gambling sites, games and apps are all designed to keep you betting. They do this by stimulating your brain’s reward center, much like alcohol and other drugs do, which can lead to addictive behaviors.

If you’re interested in how your brain reacts to gambling wins and losses, you can read more about the science behind gambling. Knowing how your body is reacting beyond your control can help you be more mindful and know when it’s time to take a break.

It’s also a good idea to check in with yourself to review your gambling habits. Think back over the past 12 months and ask yourself:

  • Have you gambled more often or with more money?
  • Have you withdrawn from relationships?
  • Have you borrowed money to cover gambling debts?
  • Do you hide your bets or gambling habits from others?
  • Do you feel the urge to keep betting even when you’re losing?
  • Has gambling caused you any health-related issues, including stress or anxiety?
  • Have you ever felt guilty or remorseful about the way you gamble or what happens when you gamble?

If you answered yes to these questions, it may be time to reassess your gambling habits. You can also take this quick free quiz to get help evaluating your current habits.

2. Practice safer play

Setting limits around how much money and time you spend on gambling can help you avoid unwanted financial consequences. Here are some ways you can mitigate your financial risks and significant losses:

  • Set time and money limits. Take advantage of the features available on gambling sites to help you monitor your play and know when you’ve gone over your time or money limit. Resist the urge to keep betting or playing once you’ve reached this limit.
  • Budget for gambling. What can you reasonably afford to spend on gambling? Set a budget for yourself and stick to it. If you struggle to keep track of your spending, consider removing your credit or debit card information from your phone or laptop so it can’t autofill on sites. Additionally, if you’re going out somewhere to bet, leave your cards at home. Never borrow money or use money that is intended for basic needs (e.g., rent and food) to place bets.
  • Know how it works. Research how a specific game or betting system works before you place your bets. For instance, some bets may depend on the outcome of the game, while others may rely on a point spread or games that will be decided in the future. Knowing what types of bets you’re making and how the system works can help reduce your risk of losing more than expected.
  • Bet only what you can afford to lose. All gambling comes with risk. Sometimes you’re up and sometimes you’re not. That’s why it’s important to consider how much money you’re willing to lose before you place any bets. Remember, if you lose your money, don’t try to win it back. This often results in bigger losses than you would have incurred if you had let the money go.

3. Find a balance

Gambling for long periods can make it difficult to keep track of your time and money. Stepping away regularly can help you clear your head and foster a healthier relationship with gambling. Here are a few tips to help you strike a balance between gambling and other activities:

  • Balance recreational gambling with other hobbies or interests.
  • Delete gambling apps from your phone, laptop and other devices.
  • Consider removing your credit or debit card information from the ‘autofill’ function on your phone, computer or other devices.
  • Set time limits or block sites that you’d like to spend less time on using software like Bet Blocker or GamBan.
  • Avoid betting or playing when your emotions are heightened (e.g., stressed, upset, angry, frustrated, etc.).
  •  Avoid gambling while under the influence of alcohol or other substances. This may cause you to take more risks than you normally would when betting.

4. Share your experience

It’s common for people to be more open about their experiences when they result in success or winnings. However, it’s also important to address losses you may have experienced.

Encourage your friends to start having open, honest and balanced conversations around sports betting and gambling. Being vulnerable and sharing your real-life experiences with the highs and lows of sports betting can help you identify habits or tactics that are working for you as well as those that aren’t. It can also provide insight into how others view gambling, what limits they have in place and how it impacts people’s lives differently.

Here are a few questions you may consider asking friends:

  • How does betting impact the enjoyment of watching sports for you?
  • How risky do you believe sports betting is compared to other types of gambling?
  • What types of sports do you bet on?
  • How hard/easy is it to make money betting?
  • Have you experienced any losses this year? What was it like?
  • How do you see your relationship with betting changing over the next few years?

5. Seek support

When betting becomes problematic, it not only increases your financial risks, but it can also increase your risk of anxiety, depression, suicidal thoughts and relationship issues.

Some people may also experience compulsive gambling. Compulsive gambling happens when someone has an uncontrollable urge to keep gambling despite the toll it takes on their life or finances. When someone is engaged in compulsive gambling, they tend to chase bets that lose more often, use up their savings, get into debt or resort to theft or fraud to fund their gambling habits.

If you’re concerned about how gambling is affecting your life, there are resources and programs available to help.

Support on campus

Collegiate Recovery Community (CUCRC)

The CUCRC provides community and support for students, staff and faculty in recovery or seeking recovery from a wide range of behaviors, including gambling.

*Available for students, staff and faculty

Counseling and Psychiatric Services (CAPS)

CAPS can help students explore their relationship with gambling and help you connect with support resources. Schedule a screening or stop by during a Let’s Talk session to meet with a provider.

*Available for students

Faculty and Staff Assistance Program (FSAP)

FSAP can help staff and faculty explore their relationship with gambling and help you connect with support resources. Submit an online request to schedule an appointment with an FSAP provider. *Available for staff and faculty

Gambling Guide

Learn quick tips for how to gamble in a healthy way, find balance, know the warning signs of problem gambling and get help or seek recovery

Support off campus


AcademicLiveCare is a free online platform that allows all CU Boulder students, staff and faculty to schedule and attend virtual counseling and psychiatry appointments from anywhere.

*Available for students, staff and faculty

Thriving Campus

If you’re interested in connecting with a local mental health provider, this comprehensive database allows you to filter providers by specialties, insurance coverage and more.

*Available for students, staff and faculty

National Problem Gambling Helpline

The National Problem Gambling Helpline is operated by the National Council on Problem Gambling (NCPG). They provide 24/7 phone, text and chat services to help connect individuals with local resources and support related to gambling concerns.

*Available for students, staff and faculty


Gamtalk is a free, anonymous, peer-based support network that helps individuals with problem gambling. They offer moderated group support chats online 24/7.

*Available for students, staff and faculty

*Gambling is prohibited in CU Boulder residence halls. NCAA rules prohibit athletics staff and student-athletes from participating in any sports wagering activities on an NCAA sponsored sport, at any level.