(WTRF) – With the popularity of mobile betting and March Madness right around the corner, this month is the perfect time to ask people to evaluate if they have a gambling problem. 

As part of Problem Gambling Awareness Month, 1-800-GAMBLER encourages people to call this month, even if they don’t think they’re addicted. 

The Problem Gambling Network of West Virginia said they usually do see a spike in calls this month, but that could be because the extra outreach and training.

At those pop-ups they offer free screening to people just so they can see if they’re approaching problem gambling.

People used to walk by and laugh and say they didn’t think anyone would have that as an addiction. Maybe a hobby, but in the last few years people started to take it much more seriously. In fact, many people walk by and say they’re considering themselves cutting down on their gambling or they have a loved one they’re worried about.

Sheila Moran, Director of Communications & Marketing, First Choice Services

Moran said gambling addiction is so much easier to hide now with mobile betting.

It used to be that you might wonder where your loved one was all night long or question why they’re spending so much time at a casino, but now everybody walks about with their phones. You’re not really sure what they’re doing. Somebody could be spending all their money gambling and you may not know about it.

Sheila Moran, Director of Communications & Marketing, First Choice Services

The demographic has also changed.

Whereas I would have said years ago it’s more of a middle- aged woman, I would say we’re definitely getting more calls from men now and definitely getting calls from younger men. We’re seeing a lot more people gambling on their phones either on sports or on the casino games.

Sheila Moran, Director of Communications & Marketing, First Choice Services

If you or someone you love has a gambling problem, call 1-800-GAMBLER or visit 1800gambler.net.

Moran explained they also get a significant amount of calls from people who are worried about loved ones. She said counselors will help them with doing an intervention, types of treatment for when their loved one is ready and even tips to protect themselves financially.

All calls made to 1-800-GAMBLER will be answered by someone right here in West Virginia.

A crisis counselor will help the caller talk over their symptoms and decide the next steps to take. Those could be counseling, group meetings, or even software to keep gambling apps off a phone or computer.

Above all, Moran wants people to remember that gambling is supposed to be recreational. It is NOT a way to make money.