MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (WBOY) — The start of “March Madness” is officially here with the first games in the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament tipping off this week. However, not all of the madness takes place on the court.

According to the American Gaming Association, 68 million Americans are expected to seek out one shining moment with their bets on this year’s tournament. March is designated as Problem Gambling Awareness Month to help people understand gambling behavior patterns and the risk that coincides with them.

A March Madness sticker for the NCAA college basketball tournament is placed on a window in downtown Indianapolis, Wednesday, March 17, 2021. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)

“One of the things we always tell people is that gambling is supposed to be recreational, not a way to make money,” 1-800 GAMBLER Director of Communications Sheila Moran said. “If you find yourself looking at this as an investment and you find yourself getting into debt and having to ask others for money because of your gambling, that’s a sure sign you’re headed for trouble.”

Moran added that another sign of trouble is how gamblers are communicating with their friends regarding how much time, money and success they are having with the habit. She also wanted to remind people that despite advertisements, there is no such thing as a risk-free bet.

“We understand that a lot of people these days are getting the impression that’s true and especially in young people,” Moran said. “There’s always a risk to your time, a risk to your money and there is a risk of addiction.”

A man checks the odds on a sports betting terminal at the Ocean Casino Resort in Atlantic City, N.J., Monday, Feb. 6, 2023. (AP Photo/Wayne Parry)

In West Virginia, one in every 50 adults will experience problem gambling. 1-800 GAMBLER can help addicts or loved ones through its in-person, online or over-the-phone treatment programs.

“So our hope is to just get our message out there as much as we can to people that if you develop a gambling problem, then you can find help here in West Virginia,” Moran said.

If you or a loved one has a gambling addiction, 1-800 GAMBLER can come to your aid if you contact them. The hotline is available 24/7.