Americans are expected to wager $3 billion on the NCAA March Madness men’s basketball tournament in 2023. With sports betting legal in Louisiana since January 2022, the Louisiana Department of Health’s (LDH) Office of Behavioral Health (OBH) reminds Louisianans to have a solid game plan before gambling.

Now in its 20th year, Problem Gambling Awareness Month coincides with March Madness as an opportunity to raise awareness of problem gambling, which includes all gambling behavior patterns that compromise, disrupt or damage personal, family or vocational pursuits. The month-long observance also promotes awareness of the resources available to those experiencing problems associated with gambling.

“The Office of Behavioral Health is committed to raising public awareness about what problem gambling is and the resources available to get help,” said OBH Assistant Secretary Karen Stubbs. “Before you gamble, get your game plan ready: Set a budget; know your limits; use licensed, regulated operators; and bet responsibly. If you or someone you know needs help, confidential gambling treatment is free and available 365 days a year to Louisiana residents.”

Governor John Bel Edwards has also proclaimed March as Problem Gambling Awareness Month (PGAM) in Louisiana, in collaboration with the National Council on Problem Gambling (NCPG).

While most adults view gambling as entertainment, all should know that risks are involved. Sports bettors are at particularly high risk for developing a gambling problem. According to the National Survey on Gambling Attitudes and Gambling Experiences 2.0, 4 out of 5 sports bettors reported they often needed to gamble more for the same feeling of excitement.

It is estimated that approximately 2 million U.S. adults (1% of the population) meet criteria for severe problem gambling and another 4 to 6 million (2-3%) for mild or moderate, according to Mayo Clinic. The rates are higher in Louisiana, where 2.9% of Louisiana residents meet severe problem gambling criteria and another 5.4% of residents may have a gambling problem, according to a 2016 study conducted by OBH.

Call or text the Louisiana Problem Gambling Helpline at 1-877-770-STOP (7867) if you or someone you know has a gambling problem. For more information about problem gambling, go to